The AFL has come under heavy fire from fans and members of the media after North Melbourne’s AFLW side was shafted by the league’s controversial conference system.
The Kangaroos finished their season with a 5-2 record — the third best of the competition.
But given only two teams from each conference qualify for the finals, the Kangaroos are the unlucky side from conference A to miss out.
That is despite the Kangaroos boasting a better win-loss record than every single team in conference B.
The hot topic was torn apart by every panellist on ABC program Offsiders when they discussed the lopsided system on Sunday.
“It’s crazy, it’s so inequitable — 600 more points have been scored by teams in conference A than B,” ABC commentator Alister Nicholson said.
“An average of 44 points per game, the Western Bulldogs, if they beat Carlton this afternoon at the Whitten Oval, it will be 14-1 conference A teams over conference B teams, in the crossover matches.
“The Bulldogs will finish last in conference A with three wins, the same as the number of wins for the teams in conference B who will go through.
“I understand the conference system is in its infancy. Why do we need it, when there’s so few games to start with?”
The sentiment was shared by Offsiders host Kelli Underwood.
“It’s embarrassing and infuriating. The AFL is meddling. Stop fiddling! Let it just breathe, let it play out, let it develop as it goes,” she said.
The controversial conference system was flagged as an issue by fans immediately as it was brought in by the league and has been highlighted throughout the season.
Now that the finals are set to begin, fans and media members have ripped the system for not having the best teams facing off for the silverware.
Despite the backlash over the conferences, North Melbourne coach Scott Gowans refused to blame set up for his side missing the finals.
Gowans said he would support whatever model the AFLW wanted to implement “There’s a lot of challenges with making up the competition and how it’s run,” Gowans said.
“It’s a tough job. There’s no way the AFL sat there and thought, ‘How can we not have the best teams playing in the finals system?’
“It is what it is.”
Fremantle coach Trent Cooper said he couldn’t help but feel a tad sorry for North Melbourne.
But the Dockers have also been short changed because of how the finals system has been formulated.
With the leaders of each conference earning hosting rights for the preliminary finals, the Dockers will miss out on a home preliminary final boasting the second best record in the competition.
Carlton (3-3) will top group B barring a huge loss to the Bulldogs on Sunday. It means the Blues will host Fremantle (6-1) despite having a far inferior record.
— with AAP