Saturday, August 21, 2004

Friday Night Folly

It's remarkable to think that up until the 1980s, Friday night football didn't exist. Then in the late 1980s, it did, but was nightmarish for those who took part, with poor crowds, low exposure, and cold nights. North Melbourne took it under its wing and developed Friday Night Footy as a desirable product, something innovative and exciting and a step away from the tradition of Saturday afternoons.

Now Friday night is prime time, with live (or close to live) broadcasts nationwide, large crowds, great exposure for sponsors - and Eddie. Given the exposure, therefore, that only Friday nights can bring, the AFL needs to minimise risk and maximise utility. The obvious and sensible way to do this would be to have a mix of teams playing in that slot, giving exposure to all sides and all sponsors and mixing up the product for a loyal audience.

Instead, as the season closes, the AFL have done just the opposite. Collingwood play every Friday night for a month leading up to the finals, and with the exception of a surprise win against Fremantle a fortnight ago, all of the games are likely to be unexciting, unspirited contests. Just the sort of thing that Friday night doesn't need. Of course, it would be churlish to criticise the AFL for not picking that the Pies of 04 would be duds when they were settling the fixture twelve months ago, but it is not unreasonable to criticise them for not minimising risk by fixturing a range of teams into the premium timeslot. That, or the hand of Eddie is at work again.

So either the AFL is under the iron fist of Eddie, or it is making the sort of basic errors that are usually the domain of the Collingwood forward-line. Either way, it's a worry.

Yep, it's Eddie.

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