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Eddie calls for huge AFL change

Eddie McGuire has called on the AFL to play its grand final at night to take advantage of a prime time TV audience.The league has always played its decider in the afternoon but Collingwood president McGuire believes the AFL needs to use the coronavirus crisis as an opportunity to reinvent itself in order to stay…

Eddie McGuire has called on the AFL to play its grand final at night to take advantage of a prime time TV audience.

The league has always played its decider in the afternoon but Collingwood president McGuire believes the AFL needs to use the coronavirus crisis as an opportunity to reinvent itself in order to stay relevant when the world gets back to normal after restrictions caused by the global pandemic are eased.

“Football, whether it’s rugby league or AFL, has to compete against Netflix, it has to compete against the cinema, against restaurants,” McGuire told Karl Stefanovic and Allison Langdon on Channel 9’s Today.

“There’s only so many hours in a day, so much disposable income, so how do we fit into it?

“How does football fit into our lifestyle? How does it fit into TV?”

McGuire suggested more Thursday night games should be considered and was adamant playing a grand final under lights was a “no-brainer” to ensure more eyeballs are trained on footy’s biggest stage.

The NRL grand final is played on a Sunday night and McGuire wants to follow that lead because more viewers translates into better value for TV broadcasters, who would then be prepared to spend more to showcase the big dance.

“As far as the night grand final, there’s no doubt that has to come in, I believe,” McGuire said. “I think there’s a chance it’ll happen this year, and if only because we need to be prime time … for the biggest game of the year.

“Channel 9 and rugby league and Fox Sports do a fantastic job with the NRL because it’s on a Sunday night, so if you’re in Melbourne and you don’t follow NRL, you watch it because it’s a big event.

“You’ve got to see it because there it is in prime time on Channel 9 and you’re watching it.

“Now the AFL are doing it on a Saturday afternoon. We’re spending a fortune in Queensland and NSW – everyone’s out on the harbour on a Saturday afternoon. Stick it in prime time.

“It’s called prime time because more people are available to watch it so I think it’s a bit of a no-brainer to do that going forward.”

However, there are some grand final revamps McGuire won’t accept. Asked if the AFL should consider moving the grand final out of Melbourne if two interstate teams were to qualify for the decider, he issued a blunt “no”.

A mega deal signed in 2018 means the MCG is contracted to host the grand final until at least 2057 and McGuire was quick to respond when Stefanovic, a proud Queenslander, quipped Cairns might be able to accommodate the biggest game of the year.

“What was that last one? See, you just tried to slip one in there Karl. I’m awake to you, mate,” McGuire joked. “Ali, give him one for me.”

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