With the AFL set to announce the finalised dates for the upcoming AFLW season in the coming days, reportedly just a month before the expected beginning of pre-season training, clubs, players and fans alike are growing increasingly frustrated at the league.

With the most recent season ending in April, players and clubs have been left to wade through murky details on dates during their potentially short off-season - unable to make any plans around employment, study or family commitments for the coming season.

As the competition is set to expand with four more teams - Hawthorn, Essendon, Port Adelaide and Sydney - debuting this season, existing clubs are dealing with an unprecedented level of player poaching while expansion sides are trying to build a new roster with no set dates for the draft and sign and trade period.

While the ongoing collective bargaining agreement negotiations have put the league in a tricky situation, leaving them unable to commit to firm dates, heat has now also turned to the proposed August start date and expected ten-round season.

For a league hoping to be full-time by 2026, the short, ten-round format isn't praised by players - with the AFL CEO conceding this ahead of the conclusion of the negotiations.

"Broadly speaking, the female playing cohort want to play a longer season," McLachlan said to media on Monday.

"It's also our view is we're bringing four more teams on board and we want to consolidate before we expand.

"That is obviously something we have been discussing. It's a real issue for the female players, I know that ... it is obviously something that has been a key part of the discussions."

As reported by the Herald Sun, players are lobbying for a longer season and better pay under the new agreement - keen to see the season extended by at least two games.

The players have also been bargaining for a pay increase to $68.78 an hour, in line with that of a male rookie player.

Under the current CBA, top-tier players in the AFLW competition are earning around $37,155 per season - paid for a ten-hour week plus match commitments, with many players doing hours of unpaid work and training on top of their other employment.

While financial and logistical considerations must be taken into account, a surface-level observation of the ongoing situation frames the AFL as a business who have invested millions of dollars into this league - hoping for it to one day rival the biggest competitions in the country - but continues to treat it with a level of non-professionalism unheard of in the men's game.

GEELONG, AUSTRALIA - MARCH 11: Geelong players run out before the round 10 AFLW match between the Geelong Cats and the Greater Western Sydney Giants at GMHBA Stadium on March 11, 2022 in Geelong, Australia. (Photo by Darrian Traynor/AFL Photos/via Getty Images )

Brisbane's Jess Wuetschner expressed her concerns back in April in a piece for Zero Hanger, explaining that an August start date at such short notice wasn't feasible for a competition like the AFLW.

"Players and staff deserve a break longer than what a proposed August start would give them," Wuetschner wrote.

"A lot of these people also work full-time jobs and/or study, and front up at training with late finishes and early starts. Travel changes affect them as much, if not more, than the players, but they never complain and front up year on year.

"Give them a proper break to catch up on life, work or study, and just allow them to enjoy life.

"I can all but guarantee if the season is to start in August, you will lose current players and potential draftees - who themselves are going to be completing their last year of school, in the middle of exams, enjoying end-of-year celebrations and graduations."

Former Bulldogs vice-president and prominent AFLW fan Susan Alberti also weighed into the debate, conceding that current players would feel "frustrated" at the current situation.

“If I was one of those players, I'd be very frustrated. I'd be really sad. I'd wonder whether I want to go on any more, because there's no certainty about my career. Why would I want to play football when I don't even know what's going to happen tomorrow? I have to plan my life," Alberti said to the Guardian.

Expecting players to rearrange their lives in a couple of months to accommodate a ten-round competition is a hard sell by the league - especially for those currently without a contract or facing a trade elsewhere, expected to front up to pre-season training in potentially a new state in just under a month.

Meanwhile, those in the draft, many of which will currently be finishing their last year of school, will suddenly be dealt a choice between exams or football.

The August start date isn't necessarily a bad thing, and will probably benefit the competition in the long-run, but forcing it upon clubs and players now makes it appear as a mere afterthought to the AFL - keen to get money back on their investment.

With the announcement due from the league at any time, the fallout from the decision will surely start soon after.