EletiofeAFL grand final to be played outside Melbourne for...

AFL grand final to be played outside Melbourne for first time in history, Daniel Andrews confirms

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  • MCG hosting event ‘doesn’t make any sense’, Victoria’s premier says
  • Queensland and Western Australia compete for showpiece

The crowd cheers at the 2019 AFL grand final between the Richmond Tigers and the GWS Giants at the MCG in Melbourne






The crowd cheers at the 2019 AFL grand final between the Richmond Tigers and the GWS Giants at the MCG in Melbourne, Victoria.
Photograph: Michael Dodge/AAP

The grand final will be played outside Melbourne for the first time in AFL/VFL history after the Victorian premier, Daniel Andrews, confirmed the Covid-19 situation in the state would force the game’s relocation.

The interstate venue which will host the 2020 flag decider is expected to be announced by the AFL this week, with Queensland and Western Australia pushing their credentials to take the showpiece event to Brisbane’s Gabba or to Optus Stadium in Perth.

Any lingering hopes that this year’s match could be played at the Melbourne Cricket Ground as scheduled evaporated on Monday when Andrews said holding it at the MCG – which has a contract with the AFL to host the game until 2057 – was too risky and “did not make any sense” given the current circumstances in Victoria.

Metropolitan Melbourne remains in stage-four lockdown after a deadly second wave of infections, with a curfew in place and movement outside of homes severely restricted.

“It is just a matter of dealing with the facts,” Andrews said on Monday. “And for the sake of one event – as important, as religious almost as it is – the notion that you would take a holiday from the coronavirus for the day so we could have the grand final for a day and a dose of normal, that doesn’t make any sense.

“That would only spread the virus. It hurts, but not as much as potentially spreading the virus more. That notion is not on the table. The AFL will have more to say about this during the week.”

Queensland has been the favourite to host the match, having successfully hosted a number of teams in hubs since the restart of the competition. But a degree of uncertainty arose at the weekend when an outbreak at a youth detention centre in Brisbane was reported. The AFL will keep a close eye on those case numbers before making its decision later this week.

The VFL/AFL grand final has been held in Melbourne each year since 1898 when the first standalone decider – in the VFL’s second year of existence – was held at Junction Oval.

Just once in the past 75 years has a VFL/AFL grand final been held anywhere but the MCG. In 1991 Waverley Park hosted the match between Hawthorn and West Coast when the MCG was ruled out as it was undergoing an upgrade.

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