FRIDAY night’s loss to Sydney has caused Alastair Clarkson to question his future, with the Hawthorn coach offering no assurance he will seek a contract extension beyond 2019.
The Hawks lost to Sydney by seven points and while Clarkson has been endorsed by club president Jeff Kennett, his long-term future is up in the air.
“When you have a game like last night, you get pretty disappointed with your own coaching,” Clarkson said.
“You just wonder whether or not, at some point in time, this group of players is going to be better served with a different coach. I want to sit down and make sure we use the fullness of the next two years to work out whether it’s the best thing for the football club that I’m the bloke that continues to take charge.” Division winners? The Blues celebrate yesterday ( right) and the Swans on Friday night (below). clubs would be relegated at season’s end to the second division.
Division Two, therefore, would have eight teams. They would meet three times each. In the 22nd and final round of the season only the top four teams would play off — 1 v 4 and 2 v 3 — with the winners to be elevated into Division One. Simple!
Well, simple compared to the English football system, which has a host of divisions below the Premier League, with promotion and relegation occurring between them all.
The current draft system could also be modified to give the round one picks entirely to Division Two.
Then round two could also start at the bottom of the second division, up to the top of Division One.
A follow-on effect may be with free agency, where I see less chance of players leaving struggling clubs for success elsewhere, when the elsewhere is unknown.
The club component of the divisions will change annually. Free agency is making the league a two-tiered, topheavy competition now, anyway. The top clubs are getting stronger, and the bottom clubs aren’t.
Good players do not leave good clubs to play for bottom clubs, but top players at bottom clubs are always looking for greener pastures.
I, for one, would love to see the top sides of our competition playing each other twice, every season. It would be fierce, riveting football.
And I imagine the crowds would flock to see it, too.
Not only would they be playing for the premiership cup — still the ultimate goal — but teams would also be playing to avoid relegation. With so much at stake, in a more balanced pool, there would be far fewer lopsided results.
Things also would be a lot more even in the second division.
Instead of getting smashed every week, each team would have a better chance of finishing higher up the ladder and gaining elevation.
And it would give their supporters something to barrack for across 22 rounds.
If a radical plan like this reduces the number of players moving to top clubs, and gives anguished supporters hope for a strong finish to the season, then call me silly, but I’d like to see that.
The thing is, our league now isn’t even. It’s a bit like George Orwell’s Animal Farm — “All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.”
The AFL continues to pump money into four teams in two non-AFL dominant states — Sydney, Greater Western Sydney, Brisbane and the