The AFL has failed in its bid to negotiate stadium deals to help grant players their wish of two byes in season 2013.
Despite pleas for the double break from the AFL Players' Association, AFL chief operating officer Gillon McLachlan said lobbying to the Victorian government and cricket authorities for crucial access to the MCG had fallen on deaf ears.
The AFL, which has released the 2013 fixtures this morning, had wanted to play a full round of nine games to start next season on the weekend starting on March 22, to enable them to accommodate the two byes. Instead, Adelaide will play in a stand-alone game on the Friday night and the other eight games will follow in the next 10 days.
McLachlan said it was a "significant" priority to get the problem fixed.
"I don't know really where it stands," McLachlan said. "They know very clearly our issue. We've made representations to government and so I guess we're looking for some constructive solutions.
"I understand that without a second (cricket) venue in Victoria to play the (Sheffield) Shield final, theoretically they need to have the MCG. But what their minimum standards are or what they need to deliver that for all those people at games, we're hoping we can get some traction on that with them. At the moment it's not ideal.
"Our players are crying out for a rest. In the discussions we have with them, the conversations, this is priority one, two and three for them."
McLachlan said they had promised government officials and cricket authorities certainty in fixture dates for "some period of time" in a bid to find a solution.
Simon Lethlean, general manager for broadcasting, scheduling and legal affairs, said the AFL was supportive of a push by West Coast to build a "carnival of football" by scheduling a game against Richmond on the Foundation Day Monday usually reserved only for WAFL matches.
Lethlean and McLachlan said they new nothing of any complaints from WAFL officials.
"We try hard to protect local football," McLachlan said.
"The best accommodation we can do is that it's a night game and if they (the WAFL) meet us half-way and the games are a bit earlier, hopefully people can get to both games and do it however they want to do it.
"The nuances in this fixture, without being flippant about it, there's a hundred things like that so we think it's an opportunity to take the game in Perth on that day and have a night game. Hopefully they can work around that time."
McLachlan also said the AFL had made it clear to the WA Football Commission what was expected in terms of contractual agreements at Petersons Stadium after the conflict with a rugby match at the venue during this year's finals series.
"We've had pretty clear dialogue," he said. "It's clear we wouldn't expect to have the situation that occurred this year, happen again next year. They're working through that given they've signed contracts."
The 2013 fixtures demand all rivals of West Coast and Fremantle will travel to WA to play at least once during the season.
As the AFL did not want any teams from this year's top eight to play expansion sides Gold Coast and Greater Western Sydney twice - except for Sydney because of their growing rivalry with the Giants - the Eagles and Dockers will play those teams only once each.
They both also meet lowly Port Adelaide only once.
West Coast and Fremantle, who meet in round one and round 16, will both play at the MCG twice each in the home-and-away rounds. Other interesting games include:
- New Carlton coach Mick Malthouse leading the Blues into battle against Collingwood for the first time at the MCG in round two
- Sydney unfurling their premiership flag before the game against Gold Coast at the SCG in round two
- Port Adelaide playing Carlton in the last home-and-away match at AAMI Stadium in round 23 before next year's move to Adelaide Oval
- Sydney and Hawthorn playing against each other for the first time since this year's grand final in round seven
- Geelong playing their first night match at home at the revamped Simonds Stadium against former Cats star and now Gold Coast captain, Gary Ablett
- St Kilda playing Sydney in the AFL's first home-and-away match at Westpac Stadium in round fiveA total of 198 home-and-away games will be played at venues in every State and territory.
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