AFL CEO Gillon McLachlan Press Conference
MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - JULY 15: AFL CEO Gillon McLachlan speaks to the media during a press conference at AFL House on July 15, 2020 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Robert Cianflone/Getty Images)

The AFL has confirmed that the 2021 start date will be on March 18, per The Herald Sun.

The date was reportedly agreed on following a meeting between the AFL and club presidents and chief executives on Thursday.

The competition will return to a standard 22-round season, with details of the fixture still to be released.

“Our plan and our start date will be 18 March next year with a 22-round season,” AFL boss Gillon McLachlan said on Friday.

“What we talked about was the timing of the release.

“We stand here today having worked through a great collaboration with our clubs, our players, our venues, our supporters to get through this year.

“And what it’s taught is things move fast, and we look to 2021 knowing COVID will still be around and we’ll have to work through it to an extent.

“How pervasive it is and what the impacts are, we don’t know.

“But standing here today, the South Australian border is closed to multiple states, Western Australia has been closed for many months.

“The discussion we had was the later we can release the fixture, the more certainty we can give our clubs and players and supporters.

“We could put a fixture out slightly later in December, but we have borders closed at the moment and three or four months before the season.

“So the conversation is primarily around our footy departments and our supporters (and) what do the clubs think is the latest we could release the fixture to give the most certainty for our footy departments and our supporters.

“That will be ongoing and we haven’t made a decision on when the fixture will be released and maybe we’ll put out the match ups and the first two rounds and wait for the balance.

“Or maybe we’ll put it out all pre-Christmas, I don’t know.”

The league is “highly unlikely’ to retain 16-minute quarters for next season, with an expectation that 20 minute quarters will return.

A Footy Frenzy of some form is being considered, while the league is not forecasting the needs for hubs in 2021 but  “there will be contingencies” if required.

The AFLW season will kick off on February 1.