And that is what this post intends to catch-up on.
The FMI theory of balancing the fixture is to split teams into three groups that play each other twice. The AFL system is all about pairing up teams from similar ladder positions for return games. This is a form of handicapping, sold as 'even-ing up the competition'. Fixture-tampering. It gives the better teams a tougher run, and the lesser teams an armchair ride. A bunk-up that helps 13th get to an inch of a flag.
The FMI system works differently. You get paired with teams spread through the ladder. Three groups of six teams. Two from the top 6, two from the middle 6. and two from the lower 6.
Everyone plays home and away through the table. Every team gets easy and hard games.
So the split out looks like this once applied.
So running these splits as home and away games makes for 10 of the 22 season games. The remainder are added by playing the other 2 groups of 6 teams once each. Neat.
So when you schedule all that (and allow for 11 home / 11 away games AND Vic-based teams travelling interstate 5 times) the 'tough draw index' becomes:
Now, the thing to look for here is not that Collingwood finished second and have the 4th easiest schedule. What you need to see is the tough draw index figures. These show that the fixture is very well balanced.
A worst index point of 1.95 (GWS) is a whole lot better a season than the AFL indexed point of 4.46 (Collingwood).
Also the easiest point of -1.31 (Fremantle) creates a harder season than the AFL indexed Saints at -3.87.
The overall spread of the above range is 3.26, while the AFL's effort is more than 2.5 times more at 8.32.
If the AFL were serious about fixture balance, the solution is staring them in the face... in the pages of this blog.
Sort of IPOTB, not ICPOTA.