On Wednesday the AFL took the unprecedented step of contacting all eight AFLW coaches to issue directives as to how they should be running play. Phone calls were followed up by a memo, which was then leaked to the media. The AFL’s concern is that the style of play being fielded in the AFLW is too defensive, too congested, and not conducive to free-flowing football, which is seen as the most exciting form of the game for audiences.
The concern comes after a significant 59% drop in national ratings for the Seven Network for round one of the 2018 competition compared to the inaugural 2017 season. What is encouraging though, is the comparative crowd numbers between the two seasons, with 50,350 attendees across the first four matches of the 2017 season compared to 44,572 for the same fixture in 2018, a drop of only 11%. On top of this, the round two clash between Fremantle and Collingwood (the first game of football to be played at the new Perth Stadium) has officially sold out with 56,000 tickets sold.