Essendon will be featured on the next three Friday nights in a decision that could continue to haunt the AFL.
The AFL closed rounds 12-15 at the end of April this year, a time when Essendon had won just one of the six opening games of the 2022 season.
Unfortunately for the league and fans, Ben Rutten’s team has failed to significantly improve his form to sit with a 2-9 record going into their retirement.
The floating armature was brought in to prevent these kinds of scenarios, and Brownlow medalist Gerard Healy wondered how there could be any logic in the move to award the Bombers three primetime games.
“They (AFL) didn’t have to do Friday night, Essendon didn’t play well, they’re 2-9,” Healy said on AFL Nation†
“The 150th (club celebration), which is to take place, tick that off, (but) let’s say they lose that by ten goals, why back up the next two Friday nights?
“What kind of intelligence underlines that decision?
“Ultimately, two good teams are the biggest drawing element of a game. As big as Essendon’s supporters base is, it’s no bigger than all the neutrals because when all the neutrals work together they make the biggest team we have.
“So look, it’s unbelievable. Part of the planning is intoxicating faith right now.
Essendon will play Carlton in an MCG blockbuster in Round 13 to celebrate their club’s 150th anniversary, with their next opponents on Friday night being St Kilda and West Coast respectively.
Their clash with the Eagles in Round 15 will be the second of a double-header on Friday night.
SENs Gerard Whateley believes the AFL rolled the dice when they gave Essendon the big podium, a gamble that may not be worth it.
“It was a punt it felt like at the time. I tried to cram Thursday night and Friday night with big drawing teams, ignoring the fact that they were going bad, and there was enough evidence to say they were going bad,” he said.
“It was a strange decision once it was released.”
The Bombers announced an internal review earlier this week, adding resources that are expected to be the primary outcome as they hope to change form in the second half of 2022.