Chris Scott calls for big AFL change over 'compromised' detail in Gather Round fixture

All 18 AFL clubs have descended on Adelaide for the second instalment of footy spectacle.

Geelong coach Chris Scott has identified a glaring issue with Gather Round after insisting one key detail of the Adelaide footy extravaganza leaves the AFL's fixture "compromised". All 18 teams have descended on the South Australian capital for the second instalment of the footy festival that sees Adelaide play host to all nine games of the round.

Adelaide will kick off Gather Round with a Thursday night clash against Melbourne at the Adelaide Oval, while Port Adelaide host Essendon at the same venue on Friday night. Gather Round essentially gives the two Adelaide-based sides an extra home game in 2024, which Scott says gives them an unfair advantage over the other 16 teams.

Pictured left to right, Geelong coach Chris Scott, Adelaide's Taylor Walker and Connor Rozee.
Geelong coach Chris Scott says Gather Round presents an unfair advantage to the two Adelaide-based clubs. Pic: Getty

The premiership-winning Cats coach says while he supports the Gather Round initiative, he insists the two Adelaide teams should play one another to make it a fairer concept. “I love it, I think it's a great initiative. I'm a fan of Adelaide full stop and they've done a terrific job of making the town come alive,” Scott told SEN's Whateley.

“I could perfectly understand the reasons for committing to Gather Round in Adelaide for a number of years after the success of last year. So, in principle, I think the idea is a really sound one, the further compromising of the fixture is a problem though. I think it's something that the AFL can and should address.

“I don't think you can just say, ‘Oh well, it's just one of those things’. There’s a really obvious solution to it. I'm not sure that the two Adelaide teams should just get an extra home game against an away team. The clear and obvious solution to the compromise is that there should just be another Showdown.”

Calls for Adelaide-based clubs to face off in Gather Round

Critics will counter Scott's argument by pointing to the fact that clubs like Collingwood get more home games at the MCG than others every year. But Scott says the Gather Round initiative is particularly unfair on the Western Australian clubs, who play fewer home games per season than the Adelaide-based ones.

“It makes no sense that even if you isolated it to the Perth teams, for example, why should the Adelaide teams get an extra home game compared to the Perth teams just because of Gather Round? Scott posed when asked if the Crows and Power should play against one another in Gather Round. “It would be understandable if there was no solution, but there is a solution.”

Seen here, players from the Adelaide Crows and Port Adelaide.
There are suggestions it would be fairer if the Adelaide Crows and Port Adelaide played one another in Gather Round. Pic: Getty

Scott had similar criticisms about the AFL fixture being compromised by this year's Opening Round initiative. The Cats coach said it was unfair that the split round meant eight of the competition's 18 clubs gained an additional bye and that there was a lopsided ladder until round six - when all teams have played the same number of games.

The veteran coach said clubs had calls for an extra bye rejected by the AFL in the past and pulled no punches when asked if Opening Round compromised the integrity of the fixture. "Of course it does but like with a lot of these things, is the juice worth the squeeze? In this case it probably is," Scott told Fox Footy at the time. "Let's just be honest. Of course it compromises it, but it might be worth it."

Thursday night's sell-out at Adelaide Oval sees the winless Crows hoping to turn their 0-3 start to the season around against an in-form Melbourne who've won three straight. Another loss for the Crows could be disastrous for their top-eight hopes amid a growing list of injury setbacks.

Adelaide have made five changes from last week's defeat to Fremantle, with Luke Pedlar, Lachlan Sholl and James Borlase all axed, while Wayne Milera and Lachlan Murphy are out because of knee injuries. The Crows have recalled Jordon Butts and Sam Berry, while Patrick Parnell, Brayden Cook and Luke Nankervis have been picked for the first time this season.