AFL CEO Gillon McLachlan has confirmed Brisbane will host this year’s Grand Final.
Reports in the lead-up to today’s announcement suggested The Gabba would win the race to hold the biggest game of 2020 and McLachlan made it official.
With COVID-19 affecting Victoria more than any other state, the Big Dance needed to be taken away from Melbourne for the first time in history.
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McLachlan also revealed during his press conference Adelaide Oval would be the back-up venue should unexpected circumstances rule out Brisbane.
The decision to go with Brisbane and Adelaide and leave Western Australia out in the dark didn’t’ sit well with WA Premier Mark McGowan who has continued to play hardball with the league.
“What we’ve said the whole way along to the AFL is you need to abide by our quarantine and safety conditions and we’re not going to give you millions of dollars. We were pretty strict about it,” he told Mix 94.5.
“They decided to go somewhere else. Western Australia obviously has the best stadium, the strongest AFL crowd and the most healthy and safe environment but they went to Queensland for other reasons obviously, so good luck to them.
“I know to some people it’s the number one priority, my number one priority is keeping people safe and getting jobs back and the economy back. The AFL comes third.”
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The CEO said Perth has a “fantastic venue” but missed out because the state government is committed to a “hard border” with regards to protecting against the spread of COVID-19.
“He understood. He asked questions about why (Brisbane was chosen) and we worked through that,” McLachlan said.
“He’s unapologetic about his tough approach (to quarantine) and it’s served West Australians well and I was really clear that was a key issue.
“He might not have agreed but he understood.”
It’s hoped a crowd of 30,000 will be able to attend the Grand Final, which will be played at night for the first time.
The decision was music to the ears of Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk, who in recent times has been talking tough about why the Sunshine State deserved to be picked to host the Grand Final on Saturday October 24.
Speaking after McLachlan’s announcement, Palaszczuk thanked the AFL for showing faith in Queensland.
“There are huge opportunities for legacy of the game and growing football … especially in regional areas,” she said.
“We will make sure that it is inclusive of Australia, we will make sure that it is inclusive of Victoria.
“A great win for Queensland, I’m very honoured the AFL has chosen Queensland.
“It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity and we’re not going to let anyone down.”
Palaszczuk’s wish was granted after Queensland opened its doors to the league this year, setting teams up in quarantine hubs to allow the season to continue.
McLachlan said it was a “difficult” decision to choose Brisbane because all the states’ presentations were so impressive, but given the work Queensland has done to facilitate the continuation of the season, it was just reward for the state.
AFL Fixture boss Travis Auld backed up McLachlan in saying the effort Queensland has put in to keep the season alive was a major reason Brisbane was given hosting rights.
Auld also said he was hopeful multiple states would be able to host finals matches.
McLachlan also confirmed the 2020 Brownlow Medal will be a unique night unlike any other in the history of the game.
Teams still playing when the medal ceremony takes place won’t be permitted to attend, instead having to tune in virtually. Teams eliminated from contention and out of the hubs will be invited.
The likelihood is the event will take place in its usual time slot in the week leading up to the Grand Final, meaning only two sides wouldn’t be able to attend.
Brisbane superstar Lachie Neale remains the short-priced favourite to claim the Brownlow Medal ahead of Melbourne’s Christian Petracca and Port Adelaide’s Travis Boak.