The Gold Coast SUNS VFL Team will open their home and away season against Footscray at Whitten Oval on Saturday 17th April.

The AFL has today released Rounds One and Two of the 2021 VFL Premiership Season, which will see the largest second-tier football competition in Australia return to Victoria, NSW and Queensland after a COVID-19 affected 2020 campaign.

The home-and-away season will feature 22 clubs from Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria in a 16-game season across 19 rounds. The season will start on Friday April 16 under lights at Skybus Stadium when Frankston hosts Coburg.

For the first time, six clubs from New South Wales and Queensland will join the oldest state league football competition in Australia.

The SUNS and Swans VFL sides will play the curtain raiser to the Round 6 Toyota AFL Premiership match at Metricon Stadium between the two respective teams as part of Round 2 at Metricon Stadium

AFL Head of Talent Pathways and State Leagues Tristan Salter said the release of the fixture provides great excitement for a VFL football-starved community of fans across Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland.

“We are so excited that VFL footy is back. Although we have to be vigilant, aware and responsible throughout the season, we cannot overstate the excitement of everybody connected to the VFL about the return in April,” Mr Salter said.

“AFL is very proud of how all VFL clubs, players, officials, supporters and corporate partners managed through a difficult year and kept their communities connected.”

Mr Salter said it was an extraordinary achievement “that 12 months after the competition was suspended due to lockdown, the competition returns with renewed vigour. We look forward to a new era for VFL football with new teams, new players and football played across three states in a new and exciting format. The start of the VFL is a testament to the hard work of all involved.”

This year’s fixture closely aligns with AFL programs given the VFL involvement of AFL-listed players from 14 AFL clubs and the shared resources across all 14 AFL clubs.

The release of rounds one and two aligns with the current release of the 2021 Toyota AFL Premiership Season fixture and is central to the fixturing of the season.

All clubs will have three allocated byes to provide an added level of flexibility.

The fixture will deliver fans a blockbuster schedule of matches and allow maximised broadcast of the game with the VFL to enter the homes of more fans across more channels in 2021.

Thursday night matches will be a regular part of the VFL fixture in 2021 with games to be broadcast live for footy fans across the country.

Rounds three to 19 dates, times and venues will be announced following the release of additional rounds of the 2021 Toyota AFL Premiership Season fixture.

The AFL would like to acknowledge the support of all clubs in demonstrating the resilience and flexibility to adapt where needed to get footy started.

“The introduction of six clubs from the northern states will not only provide more opportunity for players to potentially realise their AFL dreams, but also improve the standard of footy for the legions of passionate fans and their local VFL club,” Mr Salter said.

“We know the legion of supporters are looking forward to the return of the VFL season and there is much for fans to look forward to, whether that be attending matches or watching the broadcast.”

A top eight finals structure will commence on Saturday August 28 with the VFL Grand Final to be held on the weekend of September 18/19. The AFL will continue to work through double-headers with VFLW and AFL matches.

The timeslots for the next block of matches will be released once the 2021 Toyota AFL Premiership Season fixture for round seven is confirmed. The broadcast of matches will be confirmed ahead of Round One.

A New Era in 2021.