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Sports Prophet

Making the top 8 work

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I have just finished watching an exhilarating prelim AFL final where the winner progressed to the big day.

I am a supporter of finals footy but I understand for many of us in England that this is not the cultural way to find the national champions of a club league.

What I have learned is that in AFL they use the same top 8 system as us (minus the club call). There are two main reasons why a system of 8 finalists work so well in this sport and the NRL have been trying to copy the system to reasonably good effect and we have been copying them to reasonably ill effect considering the crowd in Huddersfield.

The beauty is that the AFL is not a full home and away season where everyone plays each other once home and away like the SL (don't start talking about Magic Weekend people).

There is something like 24 rounds which means that you only play just under half the entire competition twice and the rest just once.

This gives huge credibility to a top 8 system as a particular club may have drawn many top opponents twice and faired 50:50 against those clubs while another club may have faired just as well against weaker opponents.

An Aussie theorised that finals footy does produce the best club over a season compared to an EPL system because you play the season learning both yours and your opponents strengths and weaknesses before the ultimate knock out series begins. You then play the best team you have with tactics against the opposition which you have learned.

Again I agree with this ideology.

Unfortunately, the SL falls short because we play not only a full H&A season (plus Magic) and even worse, more than half of the comp makes the finals. Worse still with club call, there is a theoretical chance that two particular clubs could play each other four times (inc CC) before the finals start and then a further two before they reach the big game. That's six fixtures against the same team in one season.

With the magic of the Cup clearly diminishing, I would much rather see the reduction of a full H&A season to less and have the CC extended into a pool format at its later stages.

IMO this could help to justify a top 8 of 14 (although I would rather see a six) and would also add a little more spice to CC fixtures as well.

Interested to hear what you think.

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It seems you're main argument for why ESL playoffs is not a success is crowds, am I right? I don't think the poor crowds has much to do with the playoff system, there are other factors (which are commonly discussed on other threads) such as ticket prices, live tv coverage, ongoing recession which accounts to these crowds.

Also you mention that the ESL playoffs aren't successful because teams get too accustomed to their competition. I actually think that this could be a reason for closer/harder fought games as teams can better prepare for their opponents.

For me this is turning into a cracking playoff season, minus the hudds v hull FC game.

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Aren't we going to a top four play off anyway when the changes come in


Yep - waste of time discussing this as there's only one more season to go.

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