General footy writing: Middle East correspondent: Make it a grand national final

By Rod Gillett

The AFL’s threat to play the Grand Final in Sydney after the contract with the MCG expires in 2032 begs the question: why not play the Grand Final around on a rotational basis so that each city in the competition gets to host the game?

If the game is truly to become national and to be regarded as such then I believe it’s a logical step to play the Grand Final in a different city every year, so that all can share the experience generated by the game on this day.

This could mean Sydney hosting the grand final in 2033, Adelaide in 2034, Perth in 2035, Brisbane the following year, before it comes back to Melbourne. A very exciting prospect for the game!

Playing the Grand Final on this basis will make even more sense when, with the addition of Western Sydney and the Gold Coast, almost half of the competition’s teams would be based outside Melbourne.

It is such an iconic event that it will sell out wherever it’s played; put it on and people will come.

At present the allocation of tickets means that fans of the competing teams don’t get much of a look-in; really, it’s become a corporate event. However, fans will travel interstate to see their team play in a Grand Final as witnessed several times in recent years when two non-Victorian teams have played off.

And what’s more, play it at night so the game can be telecast live around the country! The television industry says a night Grand Final would be a ratings winner, especially as it would increase the audience in the non-traditional football states where people are often outdoors on spring afternoons.

Sure there’d be a reduced capacity in some cities, but it’s become a television game on this day anyway. This proposition may in fact lead to increases in ground capacities in some cities to enable this showpiece event to be held in those cities. This would strengthen the game even more in the host city.

Unlike the US, where cities bid to host the Super Bowl, I favour allocating the Grand Final to cities in advance. This would eliminate the sort of senseless bidding wars we witnessed to host the Formula 1 grand prix in Australia.

As for home-ground advantage, it’s almost become superfluous. Clubs would know in advance where the Grand Final is being played that year and would plan accordingly. By 2033 the knowledge and techniques surrounding travel will be so highly advanced that it should not be an issue.

The traditionalists in Melbourne may kick and scream about their One Day in September. But I reckon it’s time for all Australians to experience the AFL Grand Final in their city. It will be the making of the national game.


  1. pauldaffey says

    Rocket, I agree with the idea of making the AFL Grand Final a moveable feast, but with one major difference: I think the game should be played in the city of the higher-placed of the two grand finalists. So what if Subiaco holds only half the attendance of the MCG. Give West Australians, South Australians, even Tasmanians, a chance to host the big game. At the moment it’s still not quite a national competition.

  2. Rod – your idea is like communism. Beautiful in theory but it doesn’t work in practice.

    The other states have miles to go before they are ready to host a Grand Final. Let’s not forget that the GF is the one major advertisement for our game around the world. On that basis can you imagine trumpeting its magnificence, promoting this stupendous occassion, building up the tension…… then crossing to Footy Park in Adelaide!!

    It would be a bit like holding the Melbourne Cup at Hanging Rock.

    The other states would also not invest millions for one game every 5 or so years.

    Anyway – bugger them, leave it in Melbourne!!

  3. Pamela Sherpa says

    You make me laugh Dips. On a serious note- the MCG is the most magnificent stadium -unmatched by any other for atmosphere, however I agree with Rod and Daff- to be a truly national game the whole nation needs to see it, experience it and fall in love with it.There’s a fair way to go yet though. Fans/members of the competing clubs must be given access to tickets.

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