Richmond will seek more Friday night games in their 2018 AFL fixture after the club played no home-and-away games in football’s marquee timeslot during a stunning top four regular season in 2017.
The Tigers’ drubbing of Geelong in last week’s qualifying final was their first Friday night game of the year, compared to the Cats who enjoyed three home Friday night clashes plus another away Friday night contest in 2017.
Richmond had the highest total attendance of any AFL side in the 2017 home-and-away season attracting more than 705,000 people to its games at an average of 60,920 for its home fixtures. This was an increase of almost 20,000 to its 2016 average. That the Tigers did so without a single Friday night fixture is remarkable.
Fairfax Media understands the Tigers will seek more Friday night home fixtures and more Thursday night home games for 2018. Richmond had one home-and-one away Thursday night match in 2017. While Thursday nights are lucrative from a ratings and sponsorship standpoint, Friday nights are still more valuable to clubs in these markers.
The AFL confirmed Richmond would again open the season against Carlton on a Thursday night in 2018 (a Richmond home game) and would also again play in the Dreamtime at the ‘G match on a Saturday night (Essendon home match in 2018). It is unclear whether the Tigers will again play Melbourne on Anzac Day eve.
Richmond’s zero Friday night game tally for 2017 was less than clubs such as the Western Bulldogs (two home Friday night games), Collingwood (one), Geelong (three), North Melbourne (two), Port Adelaide (one), Sydney (three) and GWS (one).
Overall the Western Bulldogs had eight games either on a Friday or Thursday night in 2017 while Sydney had 10, St Kilda four, Hawthorn four, Geelong six and Adelaide six.
After the 2017 fixture was announced, AFL boss Gillon McLachlan said clubs who finished high on the ladder in 2016 were rewarded with more primetime games the next year.
“We want to bank on known form with teams that are going to turn up and provide a contest,” he said.
Richmond finished 2016 in 13th after a dismal season. They produced a stunning response in 2017 to finish third and advance to a first preliminary final since 2001 by beating Geelong on Friday night.
A team that was rewarded for their 2016 premiership, the Bulldogs, slid down the ladder in 2017, as did Hawthorn and North Melbourne.
The AFL “reward good performer” approach to the fixture was most ruthlessly seen in late 2015, when the league gave Carlton no Friday night games in their 2016 fixture. This was after Carlton played six Friday night games the previous season.
Richmond did not want to comment publicly on their potential 2017 fixture when contacted.
Speaking after the 2017 fixture was released, Tigers CEO Brendon Gale said the club was disappointed to miss out on Friday night games, but that he understood the AFL rewarding teams who has success in 2016.
“We are a big club with the third biggest membership in the league, and our games always rate well in that timeslot,” he said.
Richmond played three Friday night games in 2016 after finishing 2015 in fifth position on the ladder.