Contributed by: Wesley Hull
Clubs and fans are the big winners with the release of the 2017/18 TIO NTFL Premier League fixture being announced by AFL Northern Territory (AFLNT) today.
For the first time in the League’s history, there are 11 games scheduled for Friday night, with the majority scheduled at TIO Stadium, and a further three scheduled on the Thursday night and Friday afternoon of the Australia Day long weekend.
Clubs with a home ground will also enjoy one extra game on familiar turf with the disbursement of home games upped from five to six this season. The Tiwi Bombers will play two of their home games at Tracy Village, in recognition of the partnership forged between the two teams.
Night games in Rounds 1 and 2 of the 18 Home and Away rounds have been relocated away from TIO Stadium, as the final pieces of the refurbished light towers and change rooms are installed in time for the commencement of Round 3.
And with the Rugby League World Cup scheduled for later this year, the Stadium will be unavailable for Rounds 6 and 7.
By then it is expected ground maintenance work on Gardens Oval 1 will be complete and the surface ready for football.
The NTFL will observe Heritage Round during Round 15 with the Waratah Football Club and the Wanderers moving into a new century of Territory football in their annual Australia Day match.
Four themed rounds have been identified so far with the possibility of more to be added in due course:
Round 2 – Umpires’ Round
Round 8 – TIO Get Ready Round
Round 15 – Heritage Round
Round 17 – NDIS Round
The Grand Final replay between the St Mary’s Football Club and the Wanderers Football Club will is earmarked for Round 5 as a blockbuster Friday night clash at TIO Stadium.
The 2017/18 TIO NTFL Grand Final will be played on Saturday 17 March.
AFLNT CEO Michael Solomon said the League spent more time than in previous years consulting clubs and taking into account their priorities.
“As part of the NTFL review that we’ve been undertaking, we heard from clubs that their primary desires were to play more home games and less Saturday night fixtures to allow for better use of their facilities for social functions.
“Another request we kept hearing was to put on more Friday night games which are exciting for the competition because the Friday night timeslot has established itself as a premium fixture across all sporting codes in Australia,” he said.
The TIO NTFL Men’s Premier League fixture is the first of the divisions to be released, with the Women’s Premier League, Men’s Division 1 and 2 and U18 Boys and Girls fixtures to be finalised in the coming weeks.
The junior divisions (U16s and below) start later than the seniors and the fixture can only be created once all team submissions have been received, which is due September 1. Therefore, the junior fixtures are likely to be released mid-September.
Solomon said work was being done behind the scenes to ensure a seamless rollout for all competitions.
“The fixture process is never easy with many constraints and a focus on equity remaining, but full credit goes to the football operations department who have worked tirelessly to release this season three weeks earlier than last year.
“Our focus now turns to fitting the other divisions to match so that fans can continue to access their club and games in strong numbers,” Solomon said.
Original article can be found at: https://www.aflnt.com.au/news/2017/20...e-released
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