Gold Coast haven’t played in a Seven-hosted game since a Sunday afternoon match against Melbourne in round 20, 2018.
Foxtel-hosted Suns matches are shown live into Queensland on Seven or Seven Mate, but the Suns will be an exclusively Pay-TV proposition in Victoria.
Having entered the competition in 2011, Gold Coast have never played a Thursday night or Friday night match.
Cochrane said the Suns had to cop their off-Broadway status on the chin.
“When you finish where we finished [in 2019] you’re in no position to argue,” Cochrane told The Age after the release of the fixture on Thursday.
“It would be ludicrous of the AFL to give us a Thursday or a Friday night game at the moment. We fully appreciate and understand that. We’ve got to earn that right, and the way we earn that right is by pushing ourselves up the ladder, and we’ve certainly got a lot of pieces in place to actually achieve that aim. That’s more than reasonable.
“And what’s really critical to us in terms of free-to-air TV at the moment is that we’re live on Channel Seven in Queensland which is where our primary market is. Right at the moment that’s mission-critical for us. If we can build on results over the next few years that will change.”
He agreed that the Brisbane Lions – who will play two home Thursday night matches and two home Friday night matches at the Gabba in 2020 – were proof that things could turn around.
“They are an outstanding example,” he said.
“We take our hat off to them, and by hell we are going to work hard to try and emulate them.”
West Coast have also expressed their disappointment after being handed what shapes as the AFL’s toughest fixture for 2020, with two games in Queensland and a trip to Launceston adding to the club’s significant travel burden.
The Perth-based team will travel approximately 71,670 kilometres in 10 away trips confirmed in Thursday’s fixture release.
That includes long-distance journeys to Metricon Stadium to face Gold Coast in round nine, the Gabba to take on Brisbane in round 21 and a visit to Launceston on Anzac Day to meet Hawthorn.
West Coast issued a carefully-worded statement on Thursday saying they had developed initiatives to handle the travel toll.
“Fixtures are always tough and we often don’t get what we request, but we make the case to the AFL of the extreme challenges of being based in Perth, travelling huge distances each season and having to return late at night or very early in the morning,” chief executive Trevor Nisbett said.
“Our sports science team, our strength and conditioning staff and our coaches are highly professional in their approach to travel, match day and recovery.”
Even without the travel, West Coast’s draw is tough. The Eagles will double up against three out of four 2019 preliminary-finalists: premiers Richmond, Collingwood and Geelong.
Richmond will hit the road three times in the final six rounds of the season, including a trip to Perth’s Optus Stadium in round 23, in a challenging finish to their home-and-away campaign.
Interestingly, too, Carlton’s final seven matches of the season are all in Victoria, while St Kilda play their first eight matches in Victoria.
With AAP, Scott Spits
Daniel is an Age sports reporter