The AFL Fans Association (AFLFA) has held its second annual survey to highlight 'the voice of the footy fans' and allow the public to express their opinions on what is halting the enjoyability of our game.

The survey was completed earlier this year and drew nearly 3,000 responses from members and supporters ranging from ages 18-85+.

Umpiring is often a topical point for fans and while this year is no different, one issue has reached a glaring level of concern for the AFL...

Gambling ads

The gambling industry accounts for an enormous chunk of the AFL's wealth and therefore, occupies a significant amount of airtime at the game and on TV in the form of advertisements.

While it has long been an issue for the AFL, there has been little-to-no change or attempt of a fix, with industries simply resorting to "gamble responsibly" exclaimers in their ads.

This issue has reached the point of being the number one concern for footy fans, and while the AFL likely won't address the survey, it could follow them in the future as the concern grows.

AFLFA President, Ron Issko said that "fans are most concerned with the bombardment of gambling ads for their kids watching football is grooming them as future gamblers and normalising gambling."

Umpiring/rule changes

As expected, umpires are already getting a bad rep amongst footy fans before the start of the season and this may be a prevalent topic in the coming weeks as Round 1 commences.

We have already noticed an obvious emphasis on the 'holding the ball' rule, as players were obviously given significantly less prior opportunity than usual during the recent practice matches.

Some footy fans will like the increasingly fast play that this will force but many condemn the AFL for discouraging players to win the ball first at the risk of giving away a free kick.

Floating fixture

This is less of an immediate concern for footy fans but nonetheless is a problem for those planning to travel to watch their side play.

While there is reason for the AFL to keep the season fixture afloat while they wait and see which end-of-season matchups will be most important, it increases the difficulty and expenses of fans wishing to travel interstate to watch their side.

Issko highlighted that "fans were told that this (floating fixture) was a temporary measure during the COVID-19 pandemic, but it now exists due to broadcasting considerations"

"Fans want to plan well in advance to attend games and a floating fixture makes this more difficult and expensive," he said.

Grand Final accessibility/time slot

The traditional 2:30pm grand final time slot was under threat during the 2020 and 2021 seasons where night and twilight games were played respectively to decide the premier.

Looking back, the 2021 grand final was a success with most fans becoming less restless during grand final day of the twilight game than they were in the year before with the night game. Fans were treated to a spectacle that night under the Optus Stadium lights in Perth.

That said, Issko has maintained that "73% of fans want the grand final time to remain at the traditional 2:30pm AEST time" and that "from all polls and surveys conducted by the AFLFA, this figure remains consistent".

The more glaring concern was actually the fact that 92% of fans are demanding a redistribution of grand final ticket allocation so that members of the two competing clubs are given more preference to watch their side play.

Some separate points of conversation coming from the survey include strong approval for the establishment of a Tasmanian team, a slight majority of fans seeking an annual pride round in both the AFL and AFLW, as well as 66% of fans wanting the AFL to be more proactive in combating racism in the AFL.

Finally, after fans were asked to rate their satisfaction with their club and the AFL, Issko revealed that "the good news is that the overall fan satisfaction rating for clubs was 4.1 out of 5 and for the AFL it was 3.3 out of 5, however there are a lot more specific details to come".