Australian Football League

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Australian Football League
Current season or competition:
2014 AFL season
Australian Football League.svg
Formerly Victorian Football League
Sport Australian rules football
Founded 1897
Commissioner Andrew Demetriou
Inaugural season 1897
No. of teams 18
Country Australia
Most recent champion(s) Hawthorn (11th premiership)
Most titles Carlton
Essendon (16 premierships)
TV partner(s) Seven Network
Fox Footy
Sponsor(s) Toyota
Official website

The Australian Football League (AFL) is the highest-level professional competition in the sport of Australian rules football. Through the AFL Commission, the AFL also serves as the sport's governing body, and is responsible for controlling the Laws of the Game. The league was founded as the Victorian Football League (VFL) as a breakaway from previous Victorian Football Association (VFA), with its inaugural season commencing in 1897. Originally comprising only teams based in the Australian state of Victoria, the competition's name was changed to the Australian Football League for the 1990 season, after the admission of teams from other states, namely Queensland and Western Australia, in 1987.

The league currently consists of 18 teams spread over five states of Australia, although the majority (ten teams) are still based in Victoria. The most recently admitted teams to the competition are the Gold Coast and the Greater Western Sydney Football Clubs, which respectively began play in 2011 and 2012. The AFL season currently consists of a pre-season competition (currently branded as the "NAB Cup"), followed by a 23-round regular (or "home-and-away") season, which runs during the Australian winter (March to September). The top eight teams then play off in a finals series culminating in the AFL Grand Final, which is held at the Melbourne Cricket Ground each year. The winning team in the Grand Final is termed the "premiers", and is awarded the premiership cup.

AFL players are drawn from a number of sources; however, most players enter the league through the AFL Draft, held at the end of each season. A small number of players have converted from other sports, or been recruited internationally. Prior to the nationalisation of the competition, a zoning system was in place. At the end of the season, the best 22 players and coach from across the competition are selected in the All-Australian team. Other awards include the Brownlow Medal, awarded to the player judged the "fairest and best" throughout the regular season; the Coleman Medal, awarded to the player kicking the most goals throughout the regular season; the Norm Smith Medal, awarded to the player judged best on ground in the Grand Final; and the Rising Star Award, given to the most outstanding young player in the competition.

The AFL is the best-attended sporting league in Australia,[1] and averaged 33,461 people per game over the 2013 season, giving AFL the 4th highest average attendance figures of any professional sport in the world.[2] According to market research, the AFL is the second-most-watched sporting event in Australia, behind cricket.[3] Currently, broadcast rights for the AFL are shared between the Seven Network (free-to-air), Foxtel and Austar (pay TV), and Telstra (internet). At the end of the 2013 season, a record 756,717 people were members of an AFL club.[4]


Australia Melbourne Inner Locator.PNG

The AFL operates on a single table system, with no divisions, conferences nor promotion and relegation from other leagues.

The league was founded as the Victorian Football League (VFL) in 1897, consisting of eight breakaway teams from the Victorian Football Association (VFA). Originally comprising only teams based in the Australian state of Victoria, the competition's name was changed to the Australian Football League for the 1990 season, after the AFL took over and relocated the former team of the South Melbourne Football Club to New South Wales and renamed it the Sydney Swans in 1982, the planned 1991 addition of the Adelaide Crows and the admission of teams from Western Australia (the West Coast Eagles) and Queensland (the Brisbane Bears) in 1987.

Many of the current AFL teams date back to the beginnings of the sport of Australian rules football, including the very first club, Melbourne Football Club (1859), a foundation VFL/AFL club whose founders also first codified the sport in 1859. The Victorian Football League, commonly known as the VFL, started in 1897 with eight teams from the Victorian Football Association (VFA): Carlton, Collingwood, Essendon, Fitzroy, Geelong, Melbourne, South Melbourne, and St Kilda. Richmond and University entered in 1908, but University disbanded in 1915. In 1925, Footscray (later known as the Western Bulldogs), Hawthorn and North Melbourne entered the competition. It remained in this 12-team single-state configuration until 1982 when South Melbourne relocated to Sydney, New South Wales to become the Sydney Swans.

The next phase of national expansion occurred in 1987, with the introduction of the West Coast Eagles from Western Australia and the Brisbane Bears from Queensland. The league was renamed the Australian Football League in 1990 to reflect the expanded nature of the competition. South Australia was first represented in 1991 when the Adelaide Football Club joined the league. The Fremantle Football Club joined as the second WA team in 1995. After the 1996 season the Brisbane Bears merged with Fitzroy, creating the Brisbane Lions in 1996 and the Port Adelaide Football Club joined to maintain the league at 16 teams. Port Adelaide is the only club since 1925 to have entered the AFL from another league. In this instance, Port Adelaide came from the South Australian National Football League (SANFL), although changed their moniker from Magpies to Power and added teal to their black and white colour scheme in order to reduce identity similarities with the Collingwood Football Club. In 2011, the Gold Coast Football Club joined the AFL, while Greater Western Sydney expanded the competition to 18 teams in 2012.[5]

Current clubs[edit]

Club Guernsey Nickname Location Home ground(s)
Training ground Membership
First season
in league [7]
Adelaide[8] Crows Adelaide, South Australia Adelaide Oval
Football Park 46,405 1991 2
Brisbane Lions[9] Lions Brisbane, Queensland The Gabba
The Gabba 24,130 1997 3** [10]
Carlton[11] Blues Melbourne, Victoria Docklands Stadium
Princes Park 50,564 1897 16
Collingwood[12] Magpies Melbourne, Victoria Melbourne Cricket Ground
Olympic Park Oval[13] 78,427 1897 15
Essendon[14] Bombers Melbourne, Victoria Docklands Stadium
Melbourne Airport Training Facility 56,173 1897 16
Fremantle[15] Dockers Fremantle, Western Australia Subiaco Oval
Fremantle Oval 43,880 1995 0
Geelong[16] Cats Geelong, Victoria Kardinia Park
Kardinia Park 42,884 1897 9
Gold Coast Suns Gold Coast, Queensland Carrara Stadium
Carrara Stadium 12,502 2011 0
Greater Western Sydney Giants Sydney, New South Wales Sydney Showground Stadium
Manuka Oval
Tom Wills Oval[17] 12,681 2012 0
Hawthorn[18] Hawks Melbourne, Victoria Melbourne Cricket Ground
Aurora Stadium
Waverley Park 63,353 1925 11
Melbourne[19] Demons Melbourne, Victoria Melbourne Cricket Ground
Gosch's Paddock[20] 33,177 1897 12
North Melbourne[21] Kangaroos Melbourne, Victoria Docklands Stadium
Arden Street Oval 34,607 1925 4
Port Adelaide[22] Power Adelaide, South Australia Adelaide Oval
Alberton Oval 41,010 1997 1
Richmond[23] Tigers Melbourne, Victoria Melbourne Cricket Ground
Punt Road Oval 60,321 1908 10
St Kilda[24] Saints Melbourne, Victoria Docklands Stadium
Linen House Centre[25] 32,707 1897 1
Sydney Swans[26] Swans Sydney, New South Wales Sydney Cricket Ground
Stadium Australia
Sydney Cricket Ground 36,358 1897*** 5
West Coast Eagles[27] Eagles Perth, Western Australia Subiaco Oval
Subiaco Oval 58,501 1987 3
Western Bulldogs[28] Bulldogs Melbourne, Victoria Docklands Stadium
Whitten Oval 30,209 1925 1
  • ** club formed as a result of the merging of the Fitzroy Lions and Brisbane Bears before the 1997 season.
  • *** club was founded in Melbourne as the South Melbourne Football Club, but relocated to Sydney for the 1982 season.


Early in 2008, a meeting held by the AFL discussed having two new teams enter the AFL competition.[29] In March 2008, the AFL won the support of the league's 16 club presidents to establish a side on the Gold Coast. The new club, the Gold Coast Suns entered the league in 2011.[30] In 2010, the second licence was granted to the Greater Western Sydney Giants, a second Sydney-based team which also plays some of its home games in Canberra, A.C.T.; the Giants entered the league in 2012.

The AFL has also considered a bid from the Tasmanian government for a licence for a Tasmanian team.[31] A third team based in Sydney has been suggested.[32] A third team based in Perth has been suggested.[33] On 25 April 2013 the Westpac Stadium in Wellington, New Zealand hosted the first ever Australian Football League game played for premiership points outside of Australia. The night game between St Kilda and Sydney was played in front of a crowd of 22,183 on Anzac Day to honour the Anzac bond between the two countries.[34][35] At the official pre-match function the Prime Minister of New Zealand John Key used the occasion to raise the prospect of a New Zealand based AFL team, saying "Let's get real. We've got to get a New Zealand side in the AFL."[35]

Former clubs[edit]

Since the Australian Football League commenced in 1897 as the Victorian Football League, only one club has left the competition, Melbourne University Football Club. They last competed in 1914 and withdrew the following season due to the start of the First World War and did not reapply to join the league after the war ended. They still compete to this day in the Victorian Amateur Football Association. Two other clubs, the Fitzroy Football Club (Fitzroy Lions) and the Brisbane Bears, merged in 1996 to form the Brisbane Lions.

In 1982, the South Melbourne Football Club was deeply indebted, including to the AFL, its football team was taken over by the AFL and relocated to Sydney and became known as the Sydney Swans. This change is not considered by the AFL to have created a new team but only a change in name, location and ownership.

Guernsey Club Nickname(s) Location Home ground Years in competition Premierships Reason for leaving
Brisbane Bears Jumper.svg Brisbane Bears Brisbane, Queensland Carrara Stadium (1987–1992)
The Gabba (1991–1996)
19871996 0 Brisbane Bears merged with Fitzroy to become the Brisbane Lions
Fitzroy Lions Jumper.svg Fitzroy Maroons (1883–1938)

Gorillas (1938–1957)
Lions (1957–1996)

Melbourne, Victoria Brunswick Street Oval (1897–1966)

Princes Park (1967–1969, 1987–1993)
Junction Oval (1970–1984)
Victoria Park (1985–1986)
Whitten Oval (1994–1996)

18971996 8 Merged with the Brisbane Bears to become the Brisbane Lions
Melbourne University Jumper.svg University Students Melbourne, Victoria East Melbourne Cricket Ground (1908–1910)
Melbourne Cricket Ground (1911–1914)
19081914 0 Withdrew due to World War I


Current Australian Football League grounds in New Zealand

There have been a total of 42 different grounds used for AFL games, with 16 used during the 2012 season.[36] The largest capacity ground in use is the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG), which has a capacity of over 100,000 people, and hosts the Grand Final each year.[37] The MCG is shared by five teams as a home ground, whilst the other grounds used as home venues by multiple teams are Docklands Stadium in Melbourne (five teams), Stadium Australia in Sydney (two teams), Football Park in Adelaide (two teams), and Subiaco Oval in Perth (two teams).

Prior to the expansion of the competition, most grounds were located in suburban Melbourne, with Princes Park, Victoria Park, the Junction Oval, Waverley Park, and the Lake Oval each having hosted over 700 games.[36] However, since the introduction of a national competition, each state and territory of Australia has hosted AFL games.[38]

On 25 April 2013 (Anzac Day), a match took place between St Kilda and Sydney at Westpac Stadium in Wellington, New Zealand, being the first AFL match played outside Australia for official premiership points.[39] At the end of 2013 a new five-year deal was announced that will see St Kilda play a match on Anzac Day at the stadium every year until 2018.[40]


Close up of ruckwork from a Melbourne vs. Western Bulldogs game at Docklands Stadium in Melbourne with the roof open

The AFL has tight controls over the player lists of each club. Currently, apart from the recently added expansion clubs who have some additional players, each team can have a senior list of 38 to 40 players plus 4 to 6 rookie players, to a total of 44 players[41] (following a reduction by two of the number of rookies in 2012) and up to three development rookies (international, alternate talent or New South Wales scholarship players).[42] Changes to playing lists are permitted only in the off-season: clubs can trade players during a "trade period" which follows each season and recruit new players through the three AFL Drafts, the National Draft, the Pre-season Draft and the Rookie Draft, which take place after the trade period. A Mid Year Draft was conducted between 1990 and 1993.[43] The National Draft is the primary method of recruiting new players and has been used since 1986. The draft order is based on reverse-finishing position from the previous year, but selections can be traded. Free agency player movements have only been permitted since the 2012/13 offseason,[44] having been rejected by the AFL commission previously.[45]

Salary cap[edit]

A salary cap (known as the Total Player Payments or TPP) is also in place as part of the league's equalisation policy; this is A$9,130,000 for the 2013 season with a salary floor of $8,673,500 except for the Gold Coast, whose salary cap will be A$9,630,000 with a salary floor of $9,171,500, and Greater Western Sydney, whose salary cap is $9,987,000 with a floor of $9,530,500. The salary cap was set at A$1.25 million for 1987–1989 as per VFL agreement, with the salary floor set at 90% of the cap or $1.125 million; the salary floor was increased to 92.5% of the cap in 2001, and 95% of the cap for 2013 due to increased revenues. Both the salary cap and salary floor has increased substantially since the competition was rebranded as the AFL in 1990.

Salaries of draft selections are fixed for two years. Salaries for senior players are not normally released to the public, though the average AFL player salary at the conclusion of the 2012 season was $251,559[46] and the top few players can expect to earn up to and above $1,000,000 a year.[47] Upon successfully trading to the Sydney Swans in 2013, marquee player Lance Franklin signed a 9 year contract with the club, reportedly worth over $10 million and resulting in subsequent payments of $1.8 million annually in consecutive seasons.[48] The Total Player Earnings (TPE) - or total amount of revenue spent on reimbursement of AFL listed players - at the conclusion of the 2012 season was $173.7 million, up by 13 per cent from $153.7 million in 2011.[46]

The breaches of the salary cap and salary floor regulations outlined by the AFL are: exceeding the TPP; falling below the salary floor; not informing the AFL of payments; late or incorrect lodgement or loss of documents; or engaging in draft tampering. Penalties include fines of up to triple the amount involved ($10,000 for each document late or incorrect lodged or lost), forfeiture of draft picks and/or deduction of premiership points. The most significant breach of the salary cap was that of the Carlton Football Club in the early 2000s.


Matthew Pavlich, a South Australian playing for Western Australia-based club Fremantle jumps to mark the ball at the MCG against Melbourne

There were 801 players on AFL club senior, veteran, rookie and international lists in 2011, including players from every state and mainland territory of Australia.[49]

Indigenous Australian players[edit]

There were 79 players of Indigenous Australian descent on AFL club lists in 2013, comprising approximately 10% of the overall playing population.[50][51]

International players[edit]

There were 12 players recruited from outside of Australia on AFL lists in 2011, including 10 from Ireland, all converts from Gaelic football drafted as part of the Irish Experiment. The other two players are Seamus McNamara (Collingwood) and Mike Pyke (Sydney), recruited from the United States and Canada respectively.

There were also another five overseas-born players who emigrated to Australia at an early age on AFL lists.[52]

An International Rookie List and International Scholarship List were introduced in 2006. The International Rookie List comprises up to two players between the ages of 15–23 who are not Australian citizens. These players may remain on this list for up to three years before they must be transferred to the senior or rookie list. For the first year, payments made to international-rookie-listed players fall outside the salary cap. The International Scholarship List gives AFL clubs the option of recruiting up to eight players from outside Australia (other than Ireland). Irish players are required to either be placed on clubs' senior or rookie lists.[53] At the beginning of 2011 there were 14 international scholarship players.[54]

Season structure[edit]

Premiership season[edit]

The AFL home-and-away season at present lasts for 23 rounds, starting in late March and ending in early September. As of the 2013 AFL season, each team plays 22 matches, with one bye. Teams receive four premiership points for a win and two premiership points for a draw. Ladder finishing positions are based on the number of premiership points won, and "percentage" (calculated as the ratio of points scored to points conceded throughout the season) is used as a tie-breaker when teams finish with equal premiership points. At the end of the home-and-away season, the McClelland Trophy is awarded to the minor premiers.

The top eight teams then compete in a four-week finals series throughout September, culminating in a Grand Final to determine the premiers. The Grand Final is traditionally played at the Melbourne Cricket Ground on the afternoon of the last Saturday in September.

The winning team receives a silver premiership cup and a navy blue premiership flag – a new one of each is manufactured each year. The flag has been presented since the league began, and is traditionally unfurled at the team's first home game of the following season. The trophy was first introduced in 1959, and is manufactured annually by Cash's International at their metalworks in Frankston, Victoria.[55] Additionally, each player in the Grand Final-winning team receives a premiership medallion.

Themed rounds and special matches[edit]

Some rounds of the season are named as themed rounds, such as Rivalry Round (in which traditional rivals are matched up against each other), Women's Round and Heritage Round (where teams play in old style guernseys). Some matches are also themed for special events. For example, each year Collingwood play Essendon in the annual ANZAC Day match at the MCG and the game will typically sell out regardless of the positions of the two teams on the ladder due to their strong rivalry and huge followings. Another annual match is the Queen's Birthday game between Melbourne and Collingwood. As of 2006, Richmond and Essendon play in the Dreamtime at the 'G match. There are separate trophies for the matches between several clubs and former rivalries such as the Lake Trophy between St Kilda and the Sydney Swans.

NAB Cup[edit]

The NAB Cup is a national pre-season competition played and completed prior to the commencement of the premiership season. It has been contested each season since 1988. It has mostly been contested as a four-week knock out tournament, but the format has changed since the expansion beyond sixteen clubs in 2011, and presently features some lightning matches. The competition has frequently been used to trial rule changes. The final was played at Waverley Park most years until the ground was sold by the league in 1999; since then, the finals have been mostly played at Docklands Stadium, but interstate clubs can earn the right to host the final, and three of the finals have been played in Adelaide.


Competition timeline[edit]

Before the VFL[edit]

Australian rules football dates back to 1859. Melbourne Football Club was formed on 14 May that year. At a couple of meetings over the next week or so, at the Parade Hotel in East Melbourne, a group of about seven men, including Tom Wills, W.J. Hammersley and J. B. Thompson, wrote the first rules for Australian football. By 1866, several other clubs had also adopted an updated version of Melbourne's rules. In 1877, the amateur Victorian Football Association was established.

VFL begins and after[edit]

The Victorian Football League was established in 1896 when several clubs broke away from the Victorian Football Association which was the first Australian rules competition in Victoria, second in the country after the South Australian Football Association. The first games were played in 1897 between the foundation clubs – Carlton, Collingwood, Essendon, Fitzroy, Geelong, Melbourne, St Kilda and South Melbourne.

List of AFL premiers since 1990[edit]

Note: 1990 marked the first season in which the VFL competition rebranded itself the AFL; to reflect the increasing number of non-Victorian based clubs participating in the competition[n 1]

Hawthorn, West Coast, the Brisbane Lions and Geelong are the most successful clubs in the post-VFL era, each having won 3 premierships in that time. Collingwood, Essendon, North Melbourne, Adelaide and Sydney have won premierships twice. Of the 18 clubs currently competing in the Australian Football League, 3 have not won a premiership; Fremantle (who participated in their first Grand Final in 2013), Gold Coast (who entered the competition in 2011) and Greater Western Sydney (who entered the competition in 2012).

Individual awards[edit]

Major annual awards[edit]

Team of the Century[edit]

To celebrate the 100th season of the AFL, the "AFL Team of the Century" was named in 1996.

AFL Team of the Century
B: Bernie Smith (Geelong) Stephen Silvagni (Carlton) John Nicholls (Carlton)
HB: Bruce Doull (Carlton) Ted Whitten (Footscray) Captain Kevin Murray (Fitzroy)
C: Francis Bourke (Richmond) Ian Stewart (St Kilda, Richmond) Keith Greig (North Melbourne)
HF: Alex Jesaulenko (Carlton, St Kilda) Royce Hart (Richmond) Dick Reynolds (Essendon)
F: Leigh Matthews (Hawthorn) John Coleman (Essendon) Haydn Bunton, Sr. (Fitzroy)
Foll: Graham Farmer (Geelong) Ron Barassi (Melbourne, Carlton) Bob Skilton (South Melbourne)
Int: Gary Ablett, Sr. (Hawthorn, Geelong) Jack Dyer (Richmond) Greg Williams (Geelong, Sydney, Carlton)
Coach: Norm Smith (Melbourne, Fitzroy, South Melbourne)

Jack Elder was declared the Umpire of the Century to coincide with the Team of the Century. Since the naming of this side, most AFL clubs have nominated their own teams of the century. An Indigenous Team of the Century was also selected in 2005, featuring the best Aboriginal players of the previous 100 years from both the VFL/AFL and other state leagues.


  • Most premierships
    Carlton - 16 (most recent 1995) and Essendon - 16 (most recent 2000)
  • Most consecutive premierships
    Collingwood – 4
  • Highest score
    Geelong 37.17 (239) defeated Brisbane Bears 11.9 (75)
    Carrara Stadium, 3 May 1992
  • Highest winning margin
    190 points – Fitzroy 36.22 (238) defeated Melbourne 6.12 (48)
    Waverley Park, 28 July 1979
  • Highest aggregate score
    52.33 (345) – Melbourne 21.15 (141) lost to St Kilda 31.18 (204)
    MCG, 6 May 1978
  • Highest score in one quarter
    South Melbourne – 17.4 (106) vs. St Kilda 0.0 (0) in 4th quarter
    Lake Oval, 26 July 1919
    Final score: South Melbourne 29.15 (189) vs. St Kilda 2.6 (18)
  • Largest crowd
    Carlton v Collingwood – 121,696
    MCG, 26 September 1970 (Grand Final)
  • Largest home and away season crowd
    Melbourne v Collingwood – 99,346
    MCG, 1958
  • Largest international crowd
    Melbourne v Sydney – 32,789
    B.C. Place, Vancouver, Canada, 1987
  • Most last placed finishes at the end of the home and away season
    St Kilda – 26
  • Most games won
    Collingwood - 1921
    (to the end of the 2010 season)
  • Most games won in a season
    Essendon – 2000
    24 (incl. finals)
  • Undefeated in a home and away season
  • Most grand final appearances
    Collingwood - 43
  • Most consecutive grand final appearances
    Melbourne - 7 (between 1954 and 1960) and Hawthorn - 7 (between 1983 and 1989)
  • Most finals series appearances
    Collingwood - 78
  • Most consecutive finals series appearances
    Hawthorn - 13 (between 1982 and 1994)
  • Most consecutive wins
    Geelong – 23
  • Most consecutive games unbeaten
    Geelong – 26
  • Most consecutive losses
    University – 51 (1911–1914)
  • Most games played in a career
    Michael Tuck (Hawthorn) – 426 games
  • Most finals played in a career
    Michael Tuck (Hawthorn) – 39 games
  • Most grand finals played in a career
    Michael Tuck (Hawthorn) – 11
  • Most premierships won in a career
    Michael Tuck (Hawthorn) – 7
  • Most games as club captain
    Stephen Kernahan (Carlton) – 226 games
  • Most goals in a career
    Tony Lockett (St Kilda/Sydney) – 1,360 goals
  • Most goals in finals
    Gordon Coventry (Collingwood) – 112 goals
  • Most goals in a game
    Fred Fanning (Melbourne) – 18 goals, 30 August 1947
  • Most goals in a season (including finals)
    Bob Pratt (South Melbourne, 1934) and Peter Hudson (Hawthorn, 1971) – 150 goals
  • Most consecutive matches
    Jim Stynes (Melbourne) – 244
  • Most consecutive matches from debut
    Jared Crouch (Sydney) – 194
  • Tallest player
    Aaron Sandilands (Fremantle) 211 cm
    Peter Street (Geelong/Western Bulldogs) 211 cm
  • Shortest player
    James "Nipper" Bradford (North Melbourne/Collingwood) – 154 cm
  • Heaviest player
    Aaron Sandilands (Fremantle) – 124 kg
  • Longest kick
    Fred Fanning (Melbourne) – 76.15m (116 yards, 3¼ inches)
  • Heaviest suspension
    Doug Fraser and Alex Lang (Carlton) – 99 matches (bribery) from 1910 to 1915
  • Heaviest suspension for an on-field incident
    Fred Rutley (North Melbourne) – 89 matches (2 x kicking, 3 x striking and melee involvement) from 1925 to 1930
  • Heaviest fine imposed on club
    A$2,000,000 imposed on Essendon 2013 (bringing the AFL into disrepute)
  • Heaviest fine imposed on player
    A$50,000 imposed on Kurt Tippett of Adelaide in 2012 (involvement in violations of salary cap regulations and draft tampering, Tippett was also suspended for 11 matches)
  • Heaviest fine imposed on coach

A$30,000 – imposed on Mark 'Bomber' Thompson (senior assistant coach) of Essendon in 2013 for his part (charged for bringing the game into disrepute alongside James Hird and Danny Corcoran) in the Essendon Football Club supplements controversy.
A$15,000 – imposed on Grant Thomas of St Kilda in 2005 (criticism of umpires), and imposed on Alastair Clarkson of Hawthorn in 2009 (confrontation with Essendon player Matthew Lloyd and abusing an interchange steward)

Representative football[edit]

State football[edit]

There is currently no official state representation for AFL players despite the concept being well supported among fans and calls to re-introduce a State of Origin series.[56][57]

History of the VFL/AFL's involvement[edit]

VFL players first represented the Victoria representative team in 1897 regardless of their state of origin.

Being the dominant league drawing many of the country's best players, the Victoria Australian rules football team (nicknamed the "Big V" and composed mostly of VFL players) dominated interstate matches until the introduction of State of Origin selection criteria by the Australian Football Council (of which the VFL was a member) in 1977.

The AFL Commission assumed control of interstate football in 1993 and co-ordinated an annual State of Origin series typically held during a mid-season bye round. However after the 1999 series, the AFL declared the concept of interstate football "on hold" citing club's unwillingness to release star players and a lack of public interest and shifted its focus of representative football to the International Rules Series where it draws a greater television revenue.

The last time AFL players played formal interstate football was in the 1999 State of Origin Series when Victoria inflicted a massive defeat on South Australia in wet conditions in front of a crowd of 26,063. Just 10 years earlier, the same match with a plethora of star players attracted a crowd of 91,960.

A once-off representative match, known as the AFL Hall of Fame Tribute Match was played in 2008 to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the sport. The match was played between a team of players of Victorian origin and a team of players of interstate origin (the "Dream Team")

Some past AFL players participate and help promote the E. J. Whitten Legends Game, however this event is not affiliated with or promoted by the AFL.

International Rules Series[edit]

The International Rules Series is an annual competition played twice every three years between AFL listed players from Australia and Gaelic footballers from Ireland. The series is organised under the auspices of the AFL and the Gaelic Athletic Association. The game itself is a hybrid sport, consisting of rules from both Australian football and Gaelic football. As of yet, the series provides the only outlet for AFL players to represent their nation.


The AFL Commission is responsible for the administration of the AFL. It was established in December 1985 after club parochialism and self-interest threatened to undermine the competition.

The Commission's chairman is Mike Fitzpatrick, a former Subiaco and Carlton player, and the Chief Executive is Andrew Demetriou. After playing for North Melbourne and Hawthorn, Demetriou had a successful business career before returning to the football world as chief executive of the AFL Players Association. He then crossed to the AFL as Manager of Football Operations before succeeding Wayne Jackson.

The Commission's composition remains almost exclusively Victorian based with one exception, Bob Hammond from South Australia.

In addition to administering the national competition, the AFL is heavily involved in promoting and developing the sport in Australia. It provides funds for local leagues and in conjunction with local clubs, administers the Auskick program for young boys and girls.

The AFL also plays a leading role in developing the game outside Australia, with projects to develop the game at junior level in other countries (e.g. South Africa) and by supporting affiliated competitions around the world (See Australian football around the world).

The players of the AFL are represented by the AFL Players Association.



The following are the most recent season attendances:

Year Home and Away Average Finals1 Average1 Grand Final
2013 6,372,784 32,186 558,391 62,043 100,007
2012 6,238,876 31,509 538,934 59,882 99,683
2011 6,533,138 34,937 614,250 68,250 99,537
2010 6,494,564 36,901 651,764 65,176 100,0164 and 93,8535
2009 6,375,622 36,225 615,463 68,385 99,251
2008 6,512,999 37,0062 571,760 63,258 100,012
2007 6,475,521 36,793 575,424 63,936 97,302
2006 6,204,056 35,250 532,178 59,131 97,431
2005 6,283,788 35,703 480,112 53,346 91,8983
2004 5,909,836 33,579 458,326 50,925 77,6713
2003 5,876,515 33,389 478,425 53,158 79,4513
2002 5,648,021 32,091 449,445 49,938 91,817
2001 5,919,026 33,631 525,993 58,444 91,482
2000 5,731,091 32,563 566,562 62,951 96,249
1999 5,768,611 32,776 472,007 52,445 94,228
1998 6,119,861 34,772 572,733 63,637 94,431
1997 5,853,449 33,258 560,406 62,267 99,645
1996 5,222,266 29,672 478,773 53,197 93,102
1995 5,119,694 29,089 594,919 66,102 93,678

1 Finals total and Finals average include Grand Final crowds.
2 Record.
3 Capacity reduced due to MCG refurbishment.
4 Crowd for the drawn Grand Final.
5 Crowd for the Grand Final Replay, played one week after the drawn Grand Final.


Australian television[edit]

AFL matches are currently broadcast in Australia by the free-to-air Seven Network, subscription television provider Foxtel, and digital content provider Telstra. The 5 year deal, announced in April 2011, covers the 2012-2016 (inclusive) seasons. Telstra won the rights to broadcast one live match per week via IP Television and on its Telstra Mobile service. The deal was confirmed when the Seven Network, Foxtel and Telstra agreed to pay A$1.253 billion to the Australian Football League to broadcast every match of every round and all of the Finals Series across their platforms.[58] As part of the agreement, Austar broadcasts Foxtel`s AFL coverage in the regional areas of Australia that are not part of Foxtel`s service area. Regional free-to-air broadcasters associated with the Seven Network – Prime7, GWN7, Seven Queensland, Southern Cross Television and WIN Television – all show Seven's coverage in their respective areas.

The Seven Network broadcasts four games from every round of the regular premiership season, as well as the AFL Finals Series and the AFL Grand Final. Foxtel broadcasts every match from every round, including simulcasts of all Seven Network games except for the Grand Final (which Seven shows exclusively live). Coverage is also available via Foxtel`s IP television service (Foxtel on T-Box).

Telecast History[edit]

1957 was the first VFL season after the commencement of television in Australia (introduced in 1956 to coincide with the Melbourne Olympic Games). During the late 1950s and 60s, all Melbourne stations (ABV2, HSV7, GTV9 and, after it commenced in 1965, ATV0/ATV10) broadcast some games. However, in the late 1950s / early 60s, the VFL was afraid that direct telecasts may affect attendances and stations were only permitted to telecast a delayed replay of the last quarter of games. In the 1980s, the Seven Network was given exclusive rights to VFL/AFL games. The only year Seven didn't telecast games was 1987, when the rights were bought by Broadcom, which on-sold the rights to the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC). The exclusive rights were won back by Seven in 1988.

With the launch of subscription television in Australia, AFL match coverage commenced on cable television. Optus Vision bid for and won exclusive pay TV rights from 1996–2001, screening coverage on its own 24 hour AFL channel, branded Sports AFL in Brisbane Sydney and Melbourne (where available). The Sports AFL channel was later closed due to financial issues and relaunched in March 1999 as C7 Sport by the Seven Network with AFL match coverage also transferred to the new channel. C7 Sport became available in regional areas not in the Foxtel or Optus Vision licence area via Austar soon after the re-launch. The AFL coverage was not available through Foxtel at this time as the Seven Network and Foxtel disagreed on the cost of carrying the C7 channel. These issues regarding C7 and AFL broadcsting rights evolved into a court case between not just the Seven Network and News Limited, but Seven against the owners of the Nine Network and Network Ten in the years that followed.

In late 2000, the Seven Network's main rivals, the Kerry Packer led Nine Network, Network Ten and pay-TV's Foxtel set up a consortium which bid $500 million for the right to broadcast the 20022006 seasons inclusive. Seven had purchased a guaranteed right to make the last bid in 1995,[59] but decided not to outbid their rivals.[60] The games were split between the networks, with Nine screening Friday Night Football and two matches on Sunday, Ten screened a Saturday afternoon and a Saturday night match, with the remaining four matches shown on Foxtel. Foxtel set up its own version of a dedicated AFL-only channel, the Fox Footy Channel, which showed every game on replay during the week as well as many news, talkback and general interest shows related to Australian rules football.[61]

When the rights were offered again in January 2006 for the 2007 to 2011 seasons, Seven formed an alliance with Ten and used its guaranteed last bid rights to match Nine's offer of $780 million to win back the broadcast rights in what was the biggest sport telecasting deal in Australian history at the time. After lengthy negotiations, Foxtel agreed to be a broadcast partner and now showed four live matches each week, although no longer on a dedicated AFL channel.[59] Seven took back the Friday night match and only one game on Sunday, while Ten retained showing two matches on Saturdays. Foxtel showed two games on Saturday and two on Sunday, including a late afternoon or twilight game.[62]

International broadcast partners[edit]

Historically AFL broadcasts in other countries have varied.

In the 1980s, VFL matches were shown in the United States on ESPN for some time. In the early 1990s, Prime Network, an American regional sports network unrelated to the Australian regional television network, aired Seven's weekly highlight show as well as the Grand Final. Some other English speaking countries have shown the game, however it has been since 2008 that channels in other countries began televising matches. Between 1998 and 2006 the games were broadcast in the United States by the Fox Sports World network.[63]

In 2007, after the record domestic television rights deal, the AFL secured an additional bonus: greater international television rights and increase exposure to overseas markets, including a 5 year deal with Setanta Sports, and new deals with other overseas pay-TV networks. The deal ended early in 2009 when Setanta stopped broadcasting into Great Britain. ESPN again took up the contract.[64]

The following countries are ranked by the approximate extent of their current television coverage (and whether it is free to air):

Station/Channel Countries Free/Subscription Home & Away Finals Grand Final Broadcasting since Notes
ESPN Africa Africa Subscription 1 game per week (live/delay) Live See also Australian rules football in Africa
TSN2 Canada Subscription Live See also Australian rules football in Canada, AFANA
DirecTV Sports Caribbean
South America
Subscription 4 games per week (live/highlights/replay) Live Live
TG4 Ireland Free One game per week (highlights) See also Australian rules football in Ireland
UPC Ireland Ireland Subscription See also Australian rules football in Ireland
EM TV Papua New Guinea Free 1–3 per week (highlights) Live Live See also Australian rules football in Papua New Guinea
Fiji TV Fiji Free 1 (live/replay) Live Live See also Australian rules football in Fiji
International Channel Shanghai Peoples Republic of China Free 1 (live) Live Live See also Australian rules football in China
Australia Network Asia-Pacific region, Indian Subcontinent, Middle East Free (Subscription in some) 5 per week Yes Live
Eurosport 2 Europe Free One game per week (highlights/live/replay) Live See also Australian rules football in Europe
Fox Sports Israel Israel Subscription See also Australian rules football in the Middle East
SKY Sports México
Central America
Subscription Four games per week (highlights/live/replay) Live Live
ShowSports 2 Middle East, Asia Subscription
Sommet Sports New Zealand Free All matches live or delayed + Highlights Live Live 2013 See also Australian rules football in New Zealand
Sky Sport New Zealand Subscription 1–2 (live/delayed) + highlights See also Australian rules football in New Zealand
Canal+ (Spain) Spain Free highlights, delayed matches 2009 See also Australian rules football in Spain
Sky Digital United Kingdom Subscription See also Australian rules football in the United Kingdom
Virgin Media United Kingdom Subscription See also Australian rules football in the United Kingdom
ESPN UK United Kingdom, Republic of Ireland Subscription 3 games per week (highlights/live/replay) 2009 See also Australian rules football in the United Kingdom, See also Australian rules football in Ireland United States Subscription 3 games a week Live See also Australian rules football in the United States, AFANA
ESPN2 United States Subscription 4 games during the season Yes See also Australian rules football in the United States, AFANA
ESPN Classic United States Subscription Live See also Australian rules football in the United States, AFANA
MHz Worldview United States Subscription "Game of the Week" (one-week delay) (highlights) Live See also Australian rules football in the United States, AFANA


The AFL has stated that it wishes to showcase the footballing code to other countries such as India, China and South Africa so as to create a global following thus creating more exposure for its sponsors in the increasing Asian and African markets.[65] On 17 October 2010, AFL clubs Melbourne Demons and Brisbane Lions played an exhibition game in front of almost 10,000 people at the Riverside Sports Center in Shanghai.[citation needed] This was the first professional AFL game to be played in China.

The AFL has garnered increased interest in Ireland due to the introduction of the International Rules series played between an AFL picked All Australian Team and Ireland.[citation needed] This paved the way for young Irish footballers to be rostered to AFL teams mainly due to the fact that salaries in the AFL are much larger than that of Gaelic Football although most Irish players fail to make the grade into 1st team football.[66] This also paved the way for extended news coverage and increased broadcasting in the UK and Ireland.[citation needed]


The first broadcast of a VFL game was by 3AR in 1923, the year that broadcasting officially commenced in Australia. The first commentator was Wallace (Jumbo) Shallard, a former Geelong player who went on to have a long and respected career in print and broadcast media. The VFL/AFL has been broadcast every year since then by the ABC and (since 1927) by various commercial stations. The saturation period was the early 1960s when seven of the eight extant radio stations (3AR, 3UZ, 3DB, 3KZ, 3AW, 3XY and 3AK) broadcast VFL games each week, as well as broadcasts of Geelong games by local station 3GL. (At this time, the only alternative that radio listeners had to listening to the football on a Saturday afternoon were the classical music and fine arts programs that were broadcast by 3LO).

Currently, the official radio broadcast partners of the AFL are:


The official internet/mobile broadcast partner of the AFL is Bigpond, part of Telstra. The AFL also provides exclusive broadband content including streaming video for international fans via its website. Bigpond also hosts the official websites of all the 17 AFL clubs excluding Essendon.

The service is also provided to international subscribers. Delayed video is available 12 hours or more after the game.

However, the website is frequently derided by users for its convoluted information architecture and bloated presentation.[67][68]

From 2012 Telstra will broadcast live matches over its NextG mobile network for a pay-per-view or season fee.[69]

Corporate relations[edit]


The following are the official naming sponsors of the VFL/AFL competition:

¹Note: In 2001 CUB and Coca-Cola were joint sponsors

Publishing and print[edit]

The official print broadcast partner of the AFL is News Limited. The AFL Record is a match-day magazine published by the AFL and is read by around 225,000 people each week.


The AFL sells memberships that entitle subscribers to reserve seats for matches at Docklands Stadium and Melbourne Cricket Ground in Melbourne. AFL members also receive priority access to finals. Two levels of memberships are now offered, silver and full, with the main difference being that only full members have guaranteed access to Preliminary and Grand Final matches.[70]


The AFL runs a chain of stores that sell merchandise from all clubs. Merchandise is also available from other retailers.

AFL World[edit]

A modern museum called the Hall of Fame and Sensation opened in Melbourne in 2003 to celebrate the culture of the AFL and to provide a venue for the Australian Football Hall of Fame. The museum, a licensed off-shoot of the AFL, was originally touted for the MCG, but the Hall of Fame failed to get support from the Melbourne Cricket Club. The new QV shopping centre on Swanston Street was then chosen as the location. However, controversy followed the appointment of an administrator as the museum began running at a loss. Many blamed high entry prices, which were subsequently reduced, and the museum remains open to the public. In early 2006 the name was changed to AFL World. It features various honour boards and memorabilia as well as a range of innovative interactive displays designed to immerse visitors in the experience of elite Aussie Rules. It was closed down in 2008.

Video games[edit]

The following is a list of all the video games from the AFL video game series:


The AFL is the subject of footy tipping and betting competitions around Australia run by individuals, syndicates, workplaces and professional bookmakers. In recent years national website based tipping competitions have started to replace the traditional, but more labour-intensive, office or pub run competitions.

Fantasy football competitions based on actual player statistics (number of kicks, marks, goals etc.) are also very popular on websites and in newspapers.

See also[edit]



  1. ^ Sydney Swans formed in 1982 as a result of South Melbourne relocation.
    West Coast Eagles and Brisbane Bears enter the competition in 1987.
  2. ^ Adelaide enters the competition.
  3. ^ Fremantle enters the competition.
  4. ^ Brisbane Lions formed as a result of merger between Brisbane Bears and Fitzroy Lions.
  5. ^ Port Adelaide enters the competition.
  6. ^ Gold Coast enters the competition.
  7. ^ Greater Western Sydney enters the competition.


  1. ^ Australia's Battle of the Codes - Statistics – Convict Creations. Retrieved 18 February 2012.
  2. ^ List of attendance figures at domestic professional sports leagues – AFLTables. Retrieved 18 February 2012.
  3. ^ Cricket and AFL dominate sports watched on TV – Roy Morgan Online. Published 25 January 2012. Retrieved 18 February 2012.
  4. ^ Sports Business Insider/ AFL (2013). [1] – AFL. Published 23 August 2013. Retrieved 10 November 2013.
  5. ^ Gold Coast Suns prepared for bullying in debut season | Herald Sun
  6. ^
  7. ^ Lovett, Michael (ed.). AFL Record Guide to Season 2010. pp. 704–705. ISBN 978-0-9806274-5-9. 
  8. ^ Adelaide Crows Official Website
  9. ^ Brisbane Lions Official Website
  10. ^ "A history of Premierships". Brisbane Lions. Retrieved 15 September 2012. 
  11. ^ Carlton Football Club Official Website
  12. ^ Collingwood Football Club official website
  13. ^ Olympic Park Oval - Melbourne & Olympic Parks
  14. ^ Essendon Football Club Official Website
  15. ^ Fremantle Football Club Official Website
  16. ^ Geelong Football Club Official Website
  17. ^ New training facility for GWS Giants officially launched at Sydney Olympic Park
  18. ^ Hawthorn Football Club Official Website
  19. ^ Melbourne Football Club Official Website
  20. ^ Goschs Paddock - Melbourne & Olympic Parks
  21. ^ North Melbourne Official Website
  22. ^ Port Adelaide Football Club Official Website
  23. ^ Richmond Football Club Official Website
  24. ^ St Kilda Football Club
  25. ^ Saints receive keys for Linen House Centre at Frankston –
  26. ^ Sydney Swans Official Website
  27. ^ West Coast Eagles Official Website
  28. ^ Western Bulldogs Official Website
  29. ^ Wilson, Caroline; Raid on home turf of league;; 16 February 2008
  30. ^ Gold Coast Suns officially revealed QAFL | | Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia
  31. ^ Flanagan, Martin (10 May 2008). "Go north or south, AFL, not west of the east". The Age. Archived from the original on 10 May 2008. 
  32. ^ "AFL needs another Sydney team, says GWS Giants coach Kevin Sheedy". 
  33. ^ "AFL legend Kevin Sheedy warns third WA team would kill WAFL". 
  34. ^ Holmesby, Luke (24 April 2013). "Riewoldt proud to be part of historic occasion". Official website. St Kilda. Retrieved 27 April 2013. 
  35. ^ a b Wilson, Caroline (26 April 2013). "We want AFL team: Kiwis". The Age. Fairfax Media. Retrieved 27 April 2013. 
  36. ^ a b All venues – AFL Tables. Retrieved 1 November 2012.
  37. ^ Melbourne Cricket Ground – austadiums. Retrieved 1 November 2012.
  38. ^ AFL Venues – Australian Football League. Retrieved 1 November 2012.
  39. ^ NZ: All your questions answered | St Kilda website. Retrieved 17 April 2013
  40. ^ Phelan, Jennifer (5 October 2013). "Saints lock in five-year NZ deal". Retrieved 6 October 2013. 
  41. ^ "New Tigers unveiled today - Official AFL Website of the Richmond Football Club". Richmond Football Club. 11 December 2012. Retrieved 11 December 2012. 
  42. ^ Anderson, Adrian (14 August 2012). "Rookie Rule Amendments". AFL. p. 3. Retrieved 11 December 2012. 
  43. ^ Lane, Samantha (6 August 2011). "Players' trade surprise". 
  44. ^ Denham, Greg (24 February 2010). "Free agency becomes a reality". The Australian. 
  45. ^ O'Donoghue, Craig (25 October 2003). "AFL rejects free agency". 
  46. ^ a b [2]– "Millionaires' club explodes,"; retrieved 20 December 2013.
  47. ^ Massive pay hike
  48. ^ [3]
  49. ^ 2011 club lists – Published 7 December 2010. Retrieved 11 September 2011.
  50. ^ 2013 Indigenous Players List– Retrieved 20 December 2013.
  51. ^ Current indigenous players in the AFL – Retrieved 11 September 2011.
  52. ^ Current AFL players with strong international connections – WorldFootyNews. Last updated 7 January 2010. Retrieved 11 September 2011.
  53. ^ International recruitment about to explode? – WorldFootyNews. Written by Brett Northey. Published 17 March 2008. Retrieved 11 September 2011.
  54. ^ Current players listed via the AFL's International Scholarship List – WorldFootyNews. Last updated 25 February 2011. Retrieved 11 September 2011.
  55. ^ link Australian Football League Frequently Asked Questions
  56. ^ Robertson, Doug; Cornes calls for Origin return; Adelaide Now; 25 February 2007
  57. ^ Anderson, Jon (10 May 2012). "Rodney Eade supports return of State of Origin". Herald Sun. Archived from the original on 10 May 2012. 
  58. ^ "AFL's $1.25 billion broadcast deal". 2011-04-28. Retrieved 2012-08-15. 
  59. ^ a b Day, Mark (1 February 2007); Pay TV strikes a deal on AFL; The Australian
  60. ^ Reynolds, Fiona (25 January 2001); Seven gives up AFL rights; PM (ABC radio)
  61. ^ Live and sweaty; 22 August 2002
  62. ^ Barrett, Damian (20 January 2007); Foxtel in footy twilight zone; Herald Sun
  63. ^ The day I bought the AFL TV rights
  64. ^ ESPN picks up AFL in UK and Ireland
  65. ^ AFL hopes to net China | Herald Sun
  66. ^ The AFL is tempting Ireland's true promise » The Roar - Your Sports Opinion
  67. ^ New AFL Website – Whirlpool forums.
  68. ^ New AFL website – how bad is it? – BigFooty
  69. ^ "Watch every AFL game this season on your Telstra mobile for $50". EFTM. 13 February 2012. Retrieved 15 February 2012. 
  70. ^ AFL Silver Membership details

External links[edit]

Statistics and Results

Major AFL news Sites