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AFL Victoria has today released the 2017 Peter Jackson VFL fixture.
The competition will feature 14 teams in a 19-round home-and-away season across 20 weeks.
The opening round will be spread across the entire Easter weekend in April, beginning with the first-ever VFL Good Friday clash on April 14 between reigning premier Footscray and Box Hill Hawks, and finishing with Williamstown facing 2016 runner-up Casey on Easter Monday.
The release of the fixture coincides with the announcement that Channel 7 will continue to be the host broadcaster of the Peter Jackson VFL for the next two seasons, with Saturday afternoon to be the new home of VFL football. The TV schedule up to Round 11 has been announced as part of the fixture release, with all 14 clubs featured and the broadcasts starting with Coburg versus Collingwood on April 15. VFL games will feature at 2.30pm in April before moving to 2pm from May onwards.
The VFL broadcasts proved popular once again on Channel 7 with a 22% increase in viewers (72,250 av.) across the home-and-away season and finals, culminating in a VFL-record average audience of 266,000 – with a peak of 396,000 - for the 2016 Grand Final.
“It is great news for the competition that Channel 7 will continue to broadcast the VFL in 2017, with all clubs to be congratulated on our increased ratings this year,” AFL Victoria CEO Steven Reaper said.
“The regular team of Jason (Bennett), Nigel (Carmody), Campbell (Brown), Abbey (Holmes) and Nick (Carnell) continue to provide great coverage of the competition, helping showcase the high standard of football, depth of talent and fantastic stories at state-league level.”
The VFL and its clubs again featured prominently in the recent NAB AFL Drafts, with the competition enjoying the equal-most national draftees (six – the same as in 2004) as part of 13 players added to AFL lists for 2017.
“VFL clubs have again proven their ability to develop talent and provide players an opportunity to play at the highest level and possibly be drafted,” Reaper said.
“The fact that draftees were selected from all forms of VFL clubs – VFL standalone, AFL standalone and VFL/AFL aligned clubs – showcases that all alignment models have the ability to provide development opportunities for up-and-coming players from local or TAC Cup football.”
In 2017, clubs will have two byes, one for the state game and one during the season which coincide with AFL Club byes. The VFL finals will begin on September 2 and conclude with the Grand Final on Sunday September 24.
Key features of the 2017 fixture:
- State football will see the VFL facing the WAFL on Saturday May 29, providing some of the best Victorian talent an opportunity to test themselves at state level, with Channel 7 set to broadcast the game in 2017.
- Werribee will spend this season on the road with facility upgrades occurring at Avalon Airport Oval, starting with a trip to Torquay on Easter Sunday, before the Tigers take games to Arden St (Rd 3), Hoppers Crossing (Rd 4), Wangaratta (Rd 5), Frankston (Rd 13), VU Whitten Oval (Rd 15), Etihad Stadium (Rd 16) and Ikon Park (Rd 18).
- Richmond will venture to Beaconsfield’s Holm Reserve for two games, the same venue that hosted the Tigers’ NAB Challenge game earlier this year.
- Three AFL curtain-raiser matches have been confirmed for 2017 at Etihad Stadium, with Footscray to play two games in Round 4 (vs Richmond) and Round 10 (vs Werribee), while Werribee is set to face Collingwood in Round 16. Collingwood (Rd 6) and Northern Blues (Rd 8) are in talks to finalise curtain-raiser games at the MCG and Etihad Stadium respectively.
- While Frankston will not be part of the VFL in 2017, state-league football will not be lost to Frankston Oval next year with Essendon vs Port Melbourne in Round 4 and Werribee vs Richmond in Round 13 keeping VFL football in the region.
- 2016 grand finalists Footscray and Casey will meet just once next season, in Round 9 at Casey Fields.
- There will be 17 twilight/night games across the season, with Casey hosting seven games, Footscray and Collingwood three, Richmond two and Geelong and Werribee one each
- Richmond and Essendon will continue their traditional Sir Doug Nicholls Indigenous Round clash at the end of May, one of two home-and-away VFL games to be played on the Saturday of the state-game weekend along with Footscray vs Sandringham under lights at VU Whitten Oval.
The AFL Victoria Development league fixture has also been released. The Swisse VFL Women's fixture is due for release next week.