AFL CEO Andrew Dillon quizzed about future of Gather Round amid push from WA clubs for extra fixtures in Perth

Headshot of Glen Quartermain
Glen QuartermainThe West Australian
AFL chief executive Andrew Dillon.
Camera IconAFL chief executive Andrew Dillon. Credit: Danella Bevis/The West Australian

Western Australia could be handed a bonus “special” fixture if it does not prise Gather Round away from Adelaide beyond 2026.

And the AFL will also look at expanding Gather Round to WA.

AFL chief executive Andrew Dillon was quizzed on the future of the popular round at Friday’s Seven West Derby Lunch at Crown Ballroom.

The West Australian revealed earlier this month WA had emerged as a major player in the battle to prise the special round away from SA when its hosting rights expire and was “going hard” at securing a multi-year contract beyond 2026.

Get in front of tomorrow's news for FREE

Journalism for the curious Australian across politics, business, culture and opinion.


But Dillon hinted it would be hard to shift the fixture away from SA.

“It’s been an unqualified success in the two years we have had it,” Dillon said.

“We are locked in for another two years in Adelaide and with the advent of Tassie coming in, which will be 19 teams, we will have to move to a fixture that is either 22 rounds or 24 because it is uneven.

“So there might be a chance that we change Gather Round or expand it but that’s all in the future.”

Dillon ruled out staging two separate Gather Rounds but held discussions with Eagles CEO Don Pyke and Dockers boss Simon Garlick in Perth and conceded: “It might look different into the future.”

“What WA has is an absolute love and affinity for footy. I remember back to 2020 during COVID and we had to move it (the fixture) to Perth and we had that Dreamtime game which sold out in a matter of minutes.

Dreamtime in Perth sold out in minutes.
Camera IconDreamtime in Perth sold out in minutes. Credit: Will Russell/AFL Photos

“We played a game between Carlton and Hawthorn that was at 3 o’clock in the afternoon on a Friday and we got 18,000 there.

“So there is certainly a love of footy in WA. West Coast and Freo are the key teams but I think there is a love of footy generally so what I think we could do is bringing different games or extra games.

“It is an amazing stadium Optus Stadium so I would love to be able to use it more. But we just have to work through the fixture.

“We had some good conversations with Don and Simon this morning in relation to that, there might be more on that later.”

Dillon also poured cold water on a third AFL team playing out of WA.

Tasmania’s entry into the competition in 2028 will increase the number of AFL teams to 19, triggering speculation of a 20th licence.

But Dillon said the AFL could work with 19 teams.

AFL chief executive Andrew Dillon.
Camera IconAFL chief executive Andrew Dillon. Credit: Danella Bevis/The West Australian

“I am not that against having an odd number of teams,” Dillon told the derby lunch.

“Freo and West Coast work pretty well in Perth.

“If there was an opportunity for a 20th team I think there is a whole lot of work that would have to go into that.”

A panel of West Coast and Fremantle greats, featuring Ben Cousins, Andrew Embley, Nic Naitanui, Shaun McManus, David Mundy and Paul Hasleby also reminisced about their favourite memories ahead of Saturday night’s 58th western derby.

Get the latest news from thewest.com.au in your inbox.

Sign up for our emails