AFL chief executive Gillon McLachlan has defended the competition's pre-finals bye.
The bye has proved polarising since it was introduced in 2016 – largely in a bid to prevent clubs resting players in the final week of the home and away season.
But McLachlan cited finals fixture flexibility, fitter teams and strong ticket sales and television ratings as benefits of the bye.
"We're still playing nine finals, it just means that we have the fittest teams available, we've got a great build up," McLachlan said on Monday.
"Since we've been having it we've had the highest-attended final series ever, we've had the highest-rating final series ever.
"We can play on Thursday night, it gives us flexibility which means we have greater equity through the finals series.
"And people are just ... keen for the footy to come. But I think when it starts we're better prepared, there's better build up, we've had unbelievable finals series since we've been doing it. And we're happy to keep it going."
McLachlan said the pre-finals bye hadn't been reviewed this year and looked set to stay going forward.
"It's here for the foreseeable future," McLachlan said.
"We didn't even review it this year. It was part of the fixture, I imagine it'll be part of it next year.
"It provides the opportunity – now it was originally brought in obviously to deal with an integrity issue – but what it's meant is you get players back who are fit and ready to go, players are rested.
"And so the quality of football has been unbelievable and you just look at the crowds and the ratings and ... it's provided, I think a level of momentum and planning that means that it's a great finals series so we certainly don't think it's going anywhere."