Collingwood are at the centre of a major curveball being planned for the 2024 AFL season.
Clubs are in continued discussions with the league over next year’s fixture, with the Magpies promising blockbuster crowds on the back of their premiership success.
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That could extend to taking over the season opener largely owned by Richmond and Carlton – though not at the MCG.
Multiple reports have emerged painting a picture of the first split Round 1 since 2014.
The 2024 season would begin with the GWS Giants hosting Collingwood on a Saturday night in March.
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Sydney would host Melbourne the following day before the remaining 14 clubs play their opening matches the next weekend.
The Tigers have also been linked to the 2024 fixture shake-up, potentially heading north to play former coach Damien Hardwick’s Gold Coast Suns.
Collingwood are at the centre of a fixturing curveball. Credit: Getty
The NSW and Queensland-focused opening round would come at a time when the NRL is short on games at home after sending four clubs to Las Vegas to kick off their seasons.
But the AFL’s plans have raised questions about how the fixture looks in its final form.
The 2014 split round featured four games on the first weekend and five on the next, while 2013 was split two to seven and 2012 began with the first Sydney-GWS derby.
If the league pushes ahead with the 2024 split round, early byes for the Pies, Giants, Sydney and Demons have been floated to ensure teams are on a relatively level playing field.
Collingwood reportedly asked to play the Swans in Sydney in Round 1, an intriguing request given they will unfurl the flag at their first home game of the season.
But Pies fans are almost guaranteed to pack the MCG for that occasion regardless of when it comes.
Nearly 61,000 showed up for the club’s first home game in 2023, against Port Adelaide, with the number sure to be higher if that fixture was repeated in 2024.
The Pies are also attempting to sway the AFL into back-to-back fixtures in Queensland on the school holidays, against Brisbane on Easter Thursday and then Gold Coast the following week.
How the AFL’s last split rounds looked
ROUND 1, 2014
Friday, March 14
Collingwood v Fremantle, Docklands (Crowd: 37,571)
Saturday, March 15
GWS v Sydney, Sydney Showgrounds (17,102)
Gold Coast v Richmond, Carrara (19,425)
Sunday, March 16
Carlton v Port Adelaide, Docklands (24,640)
Thursday, March 20
Geelong v Adelaide, Kardinia Park (23,622)
Friday, March 21
North Melbourne v Essendon, Docklands (42,332)
Saturday, March 22
Hawthorn v Brisbane, York Park (12,430)
St Kilda v Melbourne, Docklands (31,657)
Sunday, March 23
West Coast v Western Bulldogs, Subiaco (36,752)
*MCG unavailable due to cricket commitments
ROUND 1, 2013
Friday, March 22
Adelaide v Essendon, Football Park (42,218)
Saturday, March 23
Fremantle v West Coast, Subiaco (39,629)
Thursday, March 28
Carlton v Richmond, MCG (80,971)
Saturday, March 30
Western Bulldogs v Brisbane, Docklands (25,263)
GWS v Sydney, Stadium Australia (23,690)
Gold Coast v St Kilda, Carrara (13,832)
Sunday, March 31
Melbourne v Port Adelaide, MCG (22,924)
North Melbourne v Collingwood, Docklands (41,040)
Monday, April 1
Hawthorn v Geelong, MCG (76,300)
*Second weekend played across Easter, no game on Good Friday
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