THE Carlton Football Club will begin its 2021 AFL campaign on the big stage with back-to-back Thursday night blockbusters to start the season.

The Blues will once again take on the Tigers in the competition’s annual season opener, a fixture that has attracted an average crowd of nearly 80,000 since the tradition began back in 2008.

Seven days later, Carlton will once again be back on the MCG to take on rivals Collingwood under the Thursday night lights in what will be the Club’s first home game in front of the Navy Blue faithful in Victoria since Round 22, 2019.

Those opening two prime-time games against local rivals are part of a run that will see the Blues play nine of their first 10 games in Victoria, six of which will be at the MCG.

On Monday, the AFL confirmed the dates and times of the opening six rounds that will also include a further three home games for the Club against Fremantle (Round 3, Marvel Stadium), Port Adelaide (Round 5, MCG) and Brisbane (Round 6, Marvel Stadium).

The Blues will also travel to the Gold Coast in Round 4 to take on the Suns at Metricon Stadium as one of five interstate trips in 2021, covering Queensland, Western Australia, South Australia and New South Wales (twice) – a terrific result for all Bluebaggers around the country.

After the first six rounds Carlton will face a further four Victorian sides in Essendon (MCG), Western Bulldogs (Marvel Stadium), Melbourne (MCG) and Hawthorn (MCG) before entering a stretch that will see the side travel to Sydney twice in a month to face the Swans and Giants respectively.

The Club will then leave Victoria just once in the final seven rounds to finish the season and will take on the following teams twice in 2021; Collingwood, Gold Coast, Greater Western Sydney, Port Adelaide and Fremantle.

After attracting an average free-to-air audience of nearly 600,000 per game in 2020, the Blues will feature prominently with three of its first four games broadcast on the Seven Network. Every game will continue to be shown live on Fox Footy.

Confirmation of further details relating to Rounds 7 – 23 will be made by the AFL at a later date.

Blues CEO Cain Liddle said the start of the season could not come quick enough for every member of the Carlton family, especially March 25 in what will be the Club’s first AFL home game in Victoria in over 19 months.

“By the time Round 2 comes around next year it would have been 587 days since our members were able to attend our last AFL home game in Victoria,” Liddle said.

“In addition to the massive season opener, we cannot wait for that first home game, to see the MCG in a sea of Navy Blue against the Magpies for what will be a special night for our football club, as all of us come together again for the first time,” Liddle said.

“We have set an ambitious target to reach 80,000 members in 2021 – more than a 15 per cent increase on last year. However, we are confident we will achieve that give the incredible support our members have shown and continue to show us this year. Today’s fixture announcement has our club back in some big games to start the season, as well as a mixture of afternoon and evening timeslots, which is terrific value for the 62,670 Bluebaggers who have already signed on for next season – we cannot wait to see them all at the footy next year.

“It is also a great result for our members and supporters around the country as we travel to four different states. Also, to have three of our first four games broadcast free-to-air on Channel Seven as well as every game live on Fox Footy means every Carlton person can be front and centre with us for what will be an exciting start to the season.

“I would also like to take this opportunity to congratulate Travis Auld, Marcus King and their team at the AFL for their efforts in putting together a fixture under a truly unique set of circumstances. Our Club has been given a chance in the opening weeks of the season to showcase our improvement and we look forward to taking that opportunity with both hands.”

1. Thursday 18 March Richmond (Away) MCG (7:25pm)
2. Thursday 25 March Collingwood (Home) MCG (7:20pm)
3. Sunday 4 April Fremantle (Home) Marvel Stadium (3:20pm)
4. Saturday 10 April Gold Coast (Away) Metricon Stadium (7:25pm)
5. Saturday 17 April Port Adelaide (Home) MCG (7:25pm)
6. Saturday 24 April Brisbane Lions (Home) Marvel Stadium (7:25pm)
7. Friday 30 April - Sunday 2 May Essendon (Away) MCG
8. Friday 7 May - Sunday 9 May Western Bulldogs (Away) Marvel Stadium
9. Friday 14 May - Sunday 16 May Melbourne (Away) MCG
10. Friday 21 May - Sunday 23 May Hawthorn (Home) MCG
11. Friday 28 May - Sunday 30 May Sydney (Away) SCG
12. Friday 4 June - Sunday 6 June West Coast (Home) MCG
13. Thursday 10 June - Monday 14 June BYE  
14. Thursday 17 June - Sunday 20 June Greater Western Sydney (Away) GIANTS Stadium
15. Thursday 24 June - Sunday 27 June Adelaide (Home) Marvel Stadium
16. Thursday 1 July - Sunday 4 July Fremantle (Away) Optus Stadium
17. Friday 9 July - Sunday 11 July Geelong (Home) MCG
18. Friday 16 July - Sunday 18 July Collingwood (Away) MCG
19. Friday 23 July - Sunday 25 July North Melbourne (Home) Marvel Stadium
20. Friday 30 July - Sunday 1 August St Kilda (Away) Marvel Stadium
21. Friday 6 August - Sunday 8 August Gold Coast (Home) Marvel Stadium
22. Friday 13 August - Sunday 15 August Port Adelaide (Away) Adelaide Oval
23. Friday 20 August - Sunday 22 August Greater Western Sydney (Home) Marvel Stadium