AFL determined to have crowd at Perth GF

·3-min read

AFL chief executive Gillon McLachlan is adamant the grand final will be held in front of a crowd, playing down concerns the West Australian government could lockout spectators at late notice.

Perth's Optus Stadium will hold the AFL grand final for the first time on September 25, following a pre-grand final bye, after an MCG decider was officially ruled out.

On Tuesday, the Victorian government conceded the state's latest coronavirus outbreak and lockdown would result in the grand final being moved away from the MCG for the second successive year.

"It has become clear as we continue to navigate through these challenges that it wouldn't be in the best interests of the community to host a grand final at the MCG in front of no crowd," McLachlan said.

The WA government previously locked out spectators hours before kick-off of the May 1 derby and West Coast's June 27 clash with the Western Bulldogs.

With Perth awarded the grand final largely on the basis a 60,000-capacity crowd will attend, McLachlan remained adamant the showpiece game wouldn't happen at an empty Optus Stadium.

"Yeah it (a potential lockout) plays on my mind. I think that would apply in most states right now," McLachlan told reporters on Tuesday.

"Now we've made the decision around being in Perth, it's clearly relevant in Perth but it would apply in Adelaide or Tasmania - there was a Tasmanian game cancelled on one case in about an hour, Hawthorn-Collingwood.

"That issue applies everywhere given the way state politics and the way people are controlling this pandemic which is quick, dramatic lockdowns.

"So what we won't do is ... we won't play a grand final in front of no people. So we'll work through that if it happens.

"But we know this government has prioritised the health and safety of its community, it's made the tough decisions, it's got tight borders. We feel we're in safe hands but we know there's a risk and if it happens, we'll deal with it."

A time slot has not been confirmed, however, the grand final appears likely to be a twilight fixture in Perth to allow it to be broadcast in prime time on Australia's east coast.

"If you worked to 2.30 or 2.40 (AEST) ... that's 12.30 or 12.40 Perth time - we're not going to play the grand final then," McLachlan said.

"So it'll be later than scheduled, but when exactly, we'll work through."

McLachlan said the pre-grand final bye would enable the teams to quarantine and prepare, while also allowing for events in the lead-up.

He confirmed the Brownlow Medal would be held on the bye weekend, on Sunday September 19 and noted WA were keen to have a grand final parade - or at least an opportunity to present the teams to "tens of thousands" of locals.

McLachlan is due to head to Perth in the next day or two while he estimated 25-30 essential staff would also travel and quarantine.

As part of the decision to move this year's grand final, the long-term contract in place that grants the MCG hosting rights for the annual season decider has been extended to 2059.

The MCG will also host an extra eight games over the next five AFL seasons, while four AFLW matches will be taken to regional Victoria over the coming three seasons.

Victoria will also host the AFL draft until 2023, with this year's edition expected to be held as a virtual event.

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