SPLIT

Sunday Herald Sun - - The Coach -

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

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