Friday, 2 November 2018


Its the Annual fixture review, which really should be titled "Did The League Get The Handicap It Wanted?", part eight in a continuing series.

Past fixture reviews as per here
2018.     2017.      2016.     2015.     2014.     2013.     2012.

The well known raison d'ĂȘtre of the AFL fixture is to fix games so that top teams are handicapped by playing better teams, and the bottom teams get a boost along by playing other poorly playing teams.

And it works. Look at 13th from 2017 and how well they went in 2018.

Anyway, the system is well known, and also is geared to allow the League wriggle room to schedule big games (derbies, rivals, etc) regardless of their own handicapping rules.
Its rules for some...

Other Assessments

By my reckoning, the close insiders of the AFL were first to publish a fixture assessment.

On first glance, there appears something NQR here.
Richmond rank 13th and yet play basically the same bracket of clubs twice as do West Coast (4th).
Essendon with three pink teams are with a harder schedule than Sydney? I guess two reds dont make a pink, or something.

Anyway, they have the inside access to all the data, so 'they know stuff'. Lets just leave it at that.

Rohan is also an annual fixture reviewer type guy and he has also gone again at Footyology.
Overall it looks like he's made a better fist of it than Champ Data but he still has the age old issue of basing it all on ladder positions.
Particularly on the back of last year, the ladder position system fails when so many teams were so close over 22 games.

Adelaide in 12th with 12 wins is 6 points worse off that GWS in 7th with only 1 win extra? Noooo.
And the Crows are 1 point better than the Bulldogs who won 4 games less? No no noooo.

2019's FMI Fixture Determination 

In the past posts on testing the fixture for determining who got a good'un or bad'un you can read how its all done. But basically it uses the FMI system ranking points, so there is scope for even teams to be measured consistently, and not in such an 'analog' style.

Past assessments have all shown the AFL achieving its end game - handicapping the fixture.

2015: "...all in all, it looks like the AFL have achieved their outcome, so ... well done!"
2016: "the KPI seems to have been met and met well this year. A few exceptions to the rule, but a decent synergy between the objectives and the outcomes."
2017: "So overall, its another win for the AFL in its programme of handicapping its own field."
2018: "the handicappers have basically done their job and the fixture is tilted as per preferred scenarios from HQ".

So how do you think 2019's went given this track record? Well, I'm glad you asked.

6West Coast11290-1001.97
10North Melbourne91112-2000.64
11Port Adelaide101145-2000.11
14W Bulldogs/FFC13947100-1.88
15Brisbane Lions159770-1.99
17Gold Coast176870-2.61
18St Kilda16932-100-3.87

The key point on the above is the 'Ladder Position' column where you will see the amazing result of the top six teams having the six hardest scheduled, and the bottom six that have the easiest six.

An almost perfect handicap. You could make an argument that GWS get a rough deal, and West Coast gain, but its a small point in an otherwise grander plan.

Where the fixture falls down is in the spread of the index data. This year its a big 8.32.
Although its better than 2017, it is a long way off 2018,
Over the past few years the spread has moved as per below.
   2019:    8.32
   2018:    5.04
   2017:    8.65
   2016:    8.90
   2015:    8.98
   2014:    9.15

This season only shows that last years exceptional schedule was an ...exception.

In a day or four, I'll get around to running the fixture according to the FMI non-handicapped schedule. Where the overall positions don't matter because the spread is much reduced.

Hoping you are the same.

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