2021 VFL Season

The 2021 VFL season has been called off as the AFL remains optimistic the VFLW Grand Final can be completed. (Photos: AFL Photos)

The 2021 VFL season will not be completed due to ongoing COVID-19 challenges as the AFL remains committed to playing the VFLW Grand Final.

The AFL has today alerted each of the 22 clubs participating in the 2021 Victorian Football League season that the season will not be completed amid ongoing challenges surrounding COVID-19 that is still prevalent around the country.

With a lengthy lockdown continuing to be in place in New South Wales and an extension to Victoria’s current restrictions, the AFL has announced it would be too difficult for the four remaining sides – Footscray, Southport, Geelong and Box Hill – to finish the season, partly due to the geographical locations of the sides.

As a result of the 2021 VFL season ceasing with preliminary finals and the Grand Final yet to have been completed, the AFL has also decided a Premier will not be awarded. Instead, the AFL will recognise Footscray as the minor premiers after their undefeated season through 10 matches.

Additionally, the AFL remains optimistic that the 2021 VFLW Grand Final can still be played between Collingwood and Geelong, working through various scenarios to make the game happen. The AFL expects the delayed start to the 2022 AFLW season to benefit the possibilities for the VFLW Grand Final to be contested, confessing no final decision has been made yet.

AFL Head of Talent Pathways and State League Competitions Tristan Salter said all parties throughout the VFL industry have worked together across the year to build towards making a VFL season happen.

“The 2021 season saw multiple schedule changes, several match cancellations, postponements and weeks of hiatus for many clubs. All clubs, players, officials and umpires should be congratulated for their relentless pursuit to play matches,” Salter said.

The difficult decision to pull the pin on the remaining 2021 VFL fixture was made following close consultation with the clubs still in the competition however after multiple scenarios were considered but the changing nature of COVID-19 made it impossible to complete the season.

“All levels of the game across Australia have been impacted by the health pandemic this year and it has been another challenging year for everyone connected to football. Footy clubs are the heartbeat of many local communities and the identity of our clubs and our league will not be defined by the outcome of the 2020 and 2021 season,” Salter said.

“We acknowledge this is very disappointing news for the players, coaches, officials, volunteers and fans of the VFL and commend every VFL club who has worked tirelessly to ensure a united approach to the outcome of the 2021 season.
“We have explored many scenarios as to how we could still proceed in Victoria and interstate over the last few weeks, but it ultimately provided too great a challenge for all involved.”

The AFL has confirmed the JJ Liston Trophy, the VFL’s best and fairest will not be awarded, feeling like the uneven number of games between the clubs and players proved to be an unfair advantage.

While the JJ Liston Trophy won’t be awarded, in the VFL, the Jim ‘Frosty’ Miller (Leading Goalkicker), Fothergill-Round-Mitchell Medal (Most Promising Young Talent), VFL Team and Coach of the Year and Alec Gillon Award (Volunteer of the Year) will all presented.

For the VFLW, the Lambert-Pearce Medal (Best and Fairest Player), Debbie Lee Rising Star Medal (Best First Year Player), Rohenna Young Medal (Leading Goalkicker), VFLW Team and Coach of the Year and Ann Rulton Award (Volunteer of the Year) will be given.

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Salter says the AFL is committed to working with all VFL clubs throughout the off-season in order to support the players, coaches and officials impacted and work towards a better involved 2022 season.

“This has been a challenging decision and we have appreciated the support of all clubs and our commercial and broadcast partners in all decisions this season. We would also like to thank the State Governments and public health authorities for their guidance and support in tackling COVID-19,” Salter said.

“To the legion of passionate fans of the VFL, we thank you for your support and understanding of these unique and challenging circumstances.

“The one constant over the last two years has been the loyalty and unwavering support of our fans and members and we look forward to preparing a memorable return to VFL football in 2022.
“VFL football will return in 2022 and we look forward to welcoming as many fans as possible back to matches to reconnect with their communities.”

A 21-team 2022 VFL season with clubs representing Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland is scheduled to begin in March or April next year. The AFL reiterates its contribution to the VFL and all state league competitions continuing to be a key contributing pathway for the evolution and growth towards further levels of Australian football.

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