A new wildcard round to decide the last two spots in the top eight could be introduced as early as next year, according to AFL chief executive Gillon McLachlan.
McLachlan met club chief executives in Melbourne on Thursday to discuss proposals for revamping the season fixture.
“There was more interest in the wildcard round leading into the finals than I thought there would be,” McLachlan said.
“That [concept] had I would say, not universal, but a significant level of support … and that was the thing that was most surprising.”
Several compositions are being considered for the wildcard round, including a scenario where the seventh-placed team plays the 10th side, and eighth plays ninth to decide who plays in the elimination final the following week.
The proposal is part of a broader discussion about overhauling the current season format, in which 18 teams play 22 games each.
“The core of it is [about] equity,” McLachlan said.
“We have a fixture that is imperfect in the sense there are 18 teams in a 22 round fixture.”
McLachlan told clubs he preferred a 17-5 model, where clubs play each other once, and then split into pools of six for the final five rounds.
The top six are guaranteed a finals berth and play off to decide positioning; the middle six compete for the remaining finals spots; while the bottom tier plays off for draft concessions.
“The additional benefit [of change] is you have more live games at the back end of the season if possible, and more compelling content,” he said, but added that more substantive changes to the fixture are unlikely to occur until 2019 at the earliest.
Collingwood coach Nathan Buckley said money appeared to be the main motivator behind the talks.
“Most of it is done around gate [takings] and revenue,” he said.
“So when it comes to the senior coaches’ role in that, it is minimal.
“It is largely around how the clubs and the AFL and the league want to set up their maximisation of revenue. So we get told when and where to play and we go about our business.”
The AFL meeting also discussed the ongoing pay deal negotiations with players and the timeline around the expansion of the AFLW league.