Australian rules football also known as Aussie rules or footy is the most attended sport in Australia, its professional league Australian Football League (AFL) has the fourth-highest average attendance of any domestic sports league in the world. AFL currently has 18 teams from across all states in Australia except for Tasmania. It has a regular season of 23 rounds running from March to September which is wintertime in Australia. The team with the best home-and-away record at the end of the regular season receives the "minor premiership" award. A four-round finals series follows featuring the eight best teams, which culminates in the AFL Grand Final held at the Melbourne Cricket Ground.
The league has no division or conference system, instead has a single table system. Teams are neither relegated nor promoted to other leagues no matter where they finish. The league started in 1897 as the Victorian Football League with eight teams from the state of Victoria and went on to add ten more teams following expansions and relocations. The name of the league was changed to the Australian Football League in 1990 on account of the national nature of the competition. The territories that do not have AFL clubs are the Australian Capital Territory, Tasmania and Northern Territory. Nine of the clubs are from the Melbourne metropolitan area in the state of Victoria.
The current season which is the 126th one of the Aussie rules football and the 33rd since changing the name to "Australian Football League" started on March 16 and will run until September 24, 2022. The season is running during another year of the COVID-19 pandemic. To counter the impacts of the pandemic, a player top-up policy was implemented which allows every club to nominate twenty top-up players from the affiliate league and reserve who could play in the event of isolation of players.
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