The AFL is aiming for a return to a traditional format of 22 matches per club in 2021, with the season beginning in its regular late-March slot.
Doubts remain over which cities the league will be able to play in and what size crowds will be allowed by state governments to attend matches amid the unpredictable COVID-19 pandemic.
AFL chief executive Gillon McLachlan on Wednesday revealed it had cost the league about $60 million to house clubs in temporary hubs in Queensland this year, and discussions have been held about repeating the procedure in 2021, if required.
But McLachlan is hopeful the league will be able to complete a normal schedule with clubs based in their home states and flying in and out for games.
It comes despite suggestions the league could use shorter quarter lengths to allow for more matches next season - with reports of up to 28 rounds - which could have made up for a shorter 2020 campaign.
"We're planning on starting on time," McLachlan said.
"We haven't 100 per cent locked that in but we've had meetings on that and our broad connotation is we start last week of March like we always have, (with a) 22-round season.
"Then there's all the other variables and all the other things that we don't know now.
"Broadly planning, clubs will need to know about training and fixturing in the coming weeks and as of today we broadly have consensusthat we'll be planning to start our season next year as it's been historically with all of the normal caveats."
McLachlan is "optimistic and confident" fans will be able to return to the MCG in round one next year but said it would be premature to speculate on the prospect of full crowds.
"What I've learnt this year is to not get ahead of ourselves and to be putting asterisks on things, and I think that's stood us in good stead," McLachlan said.
"Victorians I know are missing their football and clubs and players are missing being there, and we need to be playing footy on the MCG.
"I'm confident it will be round one, but things can happen before then."
The AFL will resist calls to return to normal 20-minute quarter lengths for the upcoming finals series, instead leaving this year's shorter 16-minute periods in place.
But the league is leaving its options open for next season.
"For next year, I don't think we'll be at 16 (minutes), we'll be at something more," McLachlan said.
"There's the probability of 20 but it gives us the opportunity to have a look at. That's all we've said.
"There's no commitment or even being looked at either way."
Australian Associated Press