Attending AFL games at the MCG on a Thursday night in winter is not an attractive prospect - it is often chilly and wet and the easier choice is to watch on TV.
Thursday night games should be scheduled at the MCG only in March-April and during the first week of finals in September.
Otherwise, they should be played at Marvel Stadium or outside Victoria, where weather conditions are generally more friendly for spectators.
Games on Thursday and Friday nights are perfect for TV - they start too late and are not suitable for families or the older generation to attend.
With negotiations for a new TV deal well underway, the AFL is only too happy to acquiesce to broadcasters' demands.
Apart from Melbourne's coldest start to winter for many years, there are many reasons why Thursday night crowds have been below expectations.
Kids go to school the next day and most workers do not have Friday off, making it difficult for families to attend games starting at 7.20pm.
If you live in the country or interstate, embarking on a trip to Melbourne outside the weekend is too inconvenient.
The overall drop in AFL crowds can be attributed to many factors.
In the past two years, many have discovered other ways to spend their recreational time and entertainment dollar - going to the football is no longer a weekly habit.
The switch to digital ticketing made sense at the height of the pandemic, but the AFL has conceded it has been too difficult to navigate and master, with a reintroduction of physical tickets next season.
The rolling fixture, another change to appease broadcasters, does not give people enough time to plan ahead and work other commitments around watching their teams play.
Getting to and from venues is proving more expensive with the rising costs of petrol and parking.
Another deterrent is the staff shortages, in particular at the MCG, creating long queues and making it hard to buy food.
Finally, the way the game has been umpired this year with confusing interpretations has been the last straw.
All clubs have enjoyed a bye and here are the mid-season reviews for the six teams which had a break last week.
Despite the Lions' inconsistency in the past month, they managed to grab top spot narrowly on percentage from a faltering Melbourne.
The first of their two clashes with the Demons occurs this week at the MCG - the results of these encounters are likely to be crucial in deciding the Lions' chances of a home qualifying final.
Brisbane's final month is full of tough assignments - Richmond (MCG), Carlton (Gabba), St Kilda (Marvel Stadium) before finishing with Melbourne at home.
Undoubtedly the surprise packet of the season, the Magpies have made stunning progress under new coach Craig McRae to put themselves in finals contention.
The hard-running Magpies lack genuine stars in attack, but their defence has been solid and the pressure around the contest elite in winning their past four games, including the impressive scalps of Fremantle, Carlton and Melbourne.
Their fixture is not tough until the final three rounds, with crunch games against the Demons (MCG), Sydney (SCG) and Blues (MCG).
The Dockers' rise up the ladder has been spectacular and a home qualifying final is in sight for Justin Longmuir's men.
Wins over Melbourne and Brisbane have confirmed the Dockers are a serious premiership threat and skipper Nat Fyfe has returned from injury as they enter this crucial phase of the season.
This weekend they travel to Marvel Stadium to face Carlton and return games against St Kilda (Marvel Stadium) and the Demons in Perth later on will be pivotal.
While the win-loss record is not overly impressive, the Hawks have adapted well to new coach Sam Mitchell and are playing an attractive, attacking game style.
They have reserved their best performances for the better teams, having defeated Geelong and Brisbane and going down narrowly to Carlton, Melbourne, Collingwood and Fremantle.
Their prospects are brighter in the run home, despite playing three games at Marvel Stadium. Three of their matches are in Tasmania, but only two are at the MCG.
The air of invincibility surrounding the Demons has dissipated quickly after three consecutive defeats before the bye.
It has been a tumultuous month on and off the field for last year's premiers and the absence of injured skipper Max Gawn with an ankle injury will test them severely.
There are challenges ahead, starting with the Lions this week. They play Geelong (GMHBA Stadium), Fremantle (Optus Stadium), Collingwood and Carlton (both at the MCG) before meeting Brisbane again (Gabba) in the final round.
NORTH MELBOURNE (1-12)
The Kangaroos are heading for their worst season since 1972, with pressure intensifying on second-year coach David Noble.
They have been uncompetitive in many games and have only a win against a depleted West Coast to show for their efforts.
In the remaining nine games, their best chance of a second victory appears to be against Essendon at Marvel Stadium. They also meet Adelaide twice and Hawthorn at Blundstone Arena, but hopes of improving on their 4-17-1 record in 2021 are forlorn.
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