Australia

Perth confirmed as host of 2021 AFL grand final

The AFL has confirmed Perth Stadium will host the 2021 grand final, after the MCG was officially ruled out because of Melbourne’s coronavirus restrictions. 

The MCG, the grand final’s traditional home, was made unavailable for a second year running due to spectators being unable to attend the venue.

The Gabba in Brisbane staged last year’s season decider.

This year’s showpiece match is scheduled for September 25, which will allow for a pre-grand final bye.

A time slot has not yet 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 the east coast of Australia.

The Brownlow Medal function will also be held in Perth on September 19.

“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,” AFL chief executive Gillon McLachlan said.

Last year’s grand final was played at the Gabba in Brisbane.(

AAP: Dave Hunt

)

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 matches over the next five AFL seasons, while four AFLW matches will be taken to regional Victoria over the coming three seasons.

Melbourne Cricket Club (MCC) chief executive Stuart Fox said it was “heartbreaking” the grand final would not be staged at the MCG, which is managed by the MCC.

“It’s part of the MCG’s DNA — so it’s incredibly disappointing not to host the 2021 event,” he said in a statement.

“We have explored and exhausted all available opportunities to be able to host this year’s grand final, however the current landscape in Victoria precludes us from welcoming members and fans into the MCG’s stands.

“We feel for everyone in the MCG community, including MCC members, club members, footy fans and stakeholders who love to watch greatness come to life on the hallowed turf.”

Victorian Sports Minister Martin Pakula said it made sense to move the grand final to Perth considering the COVID-19 situation in Melbourne.

“This is a decision made in the best interests of the health and safety of Victorians as we continue to drive down the current outbreak,” he said.

“It’s also in the best interests of football — if the grand final can be played in front of supporters, then it should be.

“We look forward to the grand final returning to its traditional home at the MCG in 2022 and for decades beyond.”

The AFL confirmed Victoria will host the national draft until 2023, with this year’s edition expected to be held as a virtual event.

AAP/ABC


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