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No more gaps

Marc McGowan - AFL Media  April 19, 2017 8:14 PM

VFL 2016 Rd 10 - Footscray v Geelong

Action from a VFL game between Geelong and Footscray in 2016

THIS year's three-week gap between the AFL and VFL seasons starting will never be repeated.

AFL Victoria state league manager John Hook made that promise on Wednesday, with a return to a fortnight's difference the most likely scenario next year.

But Hook ruled out the seasons beginning in synch, a week after Western Bulldogs premiership coach Luke Beveridge and North Melbourne counterpart Brad Scott called for exactly that.

"Two weeks is more than acceptable and, looking back, (three) weeks was too much and won't happen again," Hook told AFL.com.au.

"We've come back to even teams (with Frankston coming out) and with the AFL having that bye (before finals) now, which was in last year, it has thrown it out.

"We try and finish on that Sunday, on AFL preliminary final weekend, and we could pull it back another week and it wouldn’t have a great effect on the majority of AFL clubs.

"But the recruiters like seeing the best kids playing in the TAC Cup for three weeks, plus possibly finals, after school footy – there are all these factors that come into it."

Further light was shone on the delay when Richmond draftee Shai Bolton received a one-match ban in a VFL practice match that had to be served in round one of the second-tier competition.

That meant Bolton was unavailable for AFL selection until at least round five, with the VFL's opening round coinciding with round four of the AFL.

The VFL season started with one match on April 8 and the rest played the following weekend, with Carlton and Richmond facing off in the AFL season opener on March 23.

The VFL men's and women's and TAC Cup Grand Finals will be held at Etihad Stadium on Sunday, September 23, six days before the 2017 AFL decider. 

Hook said inserting an extra bye was the solution, rather than expecting standalone clubs to host extra matches.

"They wouldn't break even in an extra home game. It's not an AFL club environment," he said. 

"There are different scenarios, but let's say Frankston comes back into the competition and we have an uneven number of teams again – that creates an extra bye.

"We've got to see what we've got at the start of next season."