By ZAC MILBANK
The SANFL 2021 Statewide Super League season is set to kick off on the Easter Weekend in April, with the finalised fixture planned for release early next year.
With Adelaide and Port Adelaide poised to return, the highly-anticipated Round 1 schedule is planned to be hosted across all four days of the long weekend (April 1-4) in a blockbuster beginning to SANFL’s showcase men’s competition.
This could coincide with an Easter bonanza for the Statewide Super Women’s League, in which all four matches that weekend could be played in succession at Thebarton Oval, on either Good Friday or Easter Sunday.
The Statewide Super League minor round will revert back to an 18-round fixture inclusive of three byes, with each bye to be split to ensure SANFL football is played each weekend.
SANFL is hopeful of finalising the Statewide Super League fixture in the first month of 2021, and released publicly in early February, which will also see the 10-team competition return to a top-five finals format, culminating in the Grand Final being played on Sunday September 19.
SANFL General Manager Football Matt Duldig said the fixture release was dependent on the AFL’s programming of matches in 2021.
“At this stage, our intention is to release the SANFL Statewide Super League fixture in its entirety early next year,’’ Mr Duldig said.
‘’But as we have learned this year, we must remain agile due to the unpredictability of Covid-19 whilst also being mindful of the AFL’s intention to release its fixture in a staged format.
‘’Regardless, we are extremely excited about the possibility of a SANFL footy feast in both the men’s and women’s competitions across next year’s Easter Weekend.’’
SANFL also confirmed there will be no West End State Match against the WAFL in 2021 as both Leagues continue discuss the potential for the Haydn Bunton Junior Cup clash to be played in 2022.
The continued expansion of the Statewide Super Women’s League is also in motion, with an 11-round home-and-away campaign starting on Saturday February 27.
This would allow the locally-based AFLW-listed players greater opportunity to play in the SANFLW in a boost to the standard and exposure of the SA’s premier women’s State League.
Amongst the raft of 2021 announcements endorsed at this week’s SA Football Commission meeting, Adelaide and Port Adelaide’s list rules and match conditions have also been approved for this season.
Any player who has been on an AFL list in the previous two seasons will be ineligible to be on Adelaide or Port’s SANFL supplementary list while match payments have also been reduced in line with salary cap reductions applicable to the SANFL clubs.
These incorporate a reduction of each club’s total supplementary base payments from $10,000 a season to $5,000, inclusive of a reduction from $2,000 to $1,000 in maximum individual base payments per player. Each player would also only be paid a maximum match payment of $250, down from $450 in 2019.
Reductions apply for Adelaide and Port’s nominated Marquee Player, with the new $15,000 base payment and $300 match payment a decrease on the $20,000 and $500 permitted in 2019.
Finals eligibility will see AFL-listed players needing to play a higher percentage of minor round matches in the SANFL than AFL as well as playing a minimum of three games after the halfway point of the minor round.