EletiofeAFL awaits decision on crowds' return to stadiums this...

AFL awaits decision on crowds’ return to stadiums this weekend

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  • Queensland government officials weighing up proposal
  • Gold Coast Suns target having 1,000 fans on Saturday

Gold Coast Suns






The Gold Coast Suns have pitched a proposal for a test case of 1,000 fans to attend Saturday’s game against West Coast.
Photograph: Chris Hyde/Getty Images

The Queensland government is still considering a proposal to allow fans into the state’s AFL stadiums as early as this week when the competition resumes, while the NRL has targeted early July to allow 15,000 fans back.

Despite reports the all clear had been given for the Gabba and Metricon Stadium to be at 25% capacity for games as soon as this weekend, the state government says that decision is still in the hands of Queensland’s chief health officer Jeanette Young.

Gold Coast chairman Tony Cochrane on Tuesday said the Suns were waiting on a decision after they pitched a proposal for a test case of 1,000 fans to attend their home game against West Coast on Saturday.

“We submitted a very detailed document… last week on how we thought we could handle a very minimal crowd as a test case. I know the Gabba did exactly the same,” he told Nine’s Today Show.

“We are talking about 1,000 people. We are not talking anything near the capacity of those stadiums – ours being 20,000, theirs being nearly 39,000. They would come back with us with a clear definition of how many we would experiment with but at the moment we are in complete limbo.

“We have not been given a clear indication of how that can proceed and how it can move forward. So it is as clear as mud.”

Cochrane said the only thing he was sure of was that the Suns would be playing the Eagles this week.

“You will certainly see a game this weekend, it is just a question of whether the games will be purely on TV or whether we can actually allow some members and corporates into those stadiums…,” he said.

“We are waiting really on a definitive answer today and we sincerely hope we get that sooner rather than later.”

AFL boss Gillon McLachlan on Tuesday said that the league was ready to welcome back crowds “when we get the green light”.

“I think they’re feeling optimistic up in Queensland… and we’ll hear something this week…,” he told Triple M’s Hot Breakfast.

Stadiums Queensland, which manages the Gabba as well as NRL venues in the state, said proposals from both codes to allow some fans back into stadiums on match days was being considered.

McLachlan said the league will accept further financial pain if it means passionate supporters are allowed back into games sooner.

Opening up grounds to a limited amount of people won’t be profitable but McLachlan is unfazed despite the Covid-19 pandemic already bringing about the biggest financial crisis in the league’s history.

“I think most of the crowds in the smaller numbers are going to be uneconomic,” McLachlan told Fox Footy. “But our members and supporters have been unbelievable and are in the process of getting clubs through [this crisis].

“We’ll be investing back in our supporters as much as anything to be able for them to go to the football.”

GWS have been pushing to allow corporate guests into this Sunday’s match against North Melbourne.

McLachlan is growing increasingly confident that Victorian games won’t be played behind closed doors for the entire season despite infection rates there remaining higher than in other states.

Meanwhile, the NRL’s push to repopulate stadiums as soon as possible continues, with the league reportedly in talks over 15,000 people being allowed back by 5 July.

The proposal is still under discussion, according to the Daily Telegraph, and would need the green light to be given by the NSW government if it were to go ahead.

The NRL has led the charge on the return of fans, and the NSW government will allow up to 1,000 fans – socially distanced in corporate boxes – in the state for this week’s round five.

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