Grand Final should go on the road

AFL great Jason Akermanis wants the Grand Final to become a movable feast after the success of this year’s decider in Brisbane and to show the competition is not “Victorian-biased”.

The Gabba hosted the first ever night decider after the season was rescued by the Queensland government and a COVID-19-capped crowd of almost 30,000 watched Richmond beat Geelong by 31 points on Saturday night.

The game attracted a national average television audience of 3.812 million and a peak audience of 4.283 million, the highest average audience since the 2016 Grand Final and up 30 per cent on last year’s afternoon decider.

While the Grand Final will return to the MCG next year as part of the contract which has the venue hosting the match until 2058, Akermanis, a triple-premiership player with the Lions and a Brownlow medallist, said the deal should be revisited.

“I think the AFL need to make a conscious decision if they really truly believe that this is not a Victorian-biased competition, and really want to start to move the final around the country like the NFL model, which they’ve copied so much of,” the triple-premiership winner with the Brisbane Lions and 2001 Brownlow Medallist said.

“That will show that their attitude and belief in the national competition is alive.

“Brisbane has shown it can host a night grand final, but you don’t have to do that every time.

“The AFL can now hold it in WA, they can hold it in Adelaide, they can hold it in one of the Sydney stadiums – they can start to move it around.

“Melbourne can be a 2.50pm start, Brisbane can be a night start, WA can be a night start … we’ve got options and the AFL can do something other than the tradition that has been around for so long.

“Do we want to take the game to the people who are the reason we have this game all around the country?”

AFL Commission chairman Richard Goyder says he will back future night grand finals as season-deciders after Saturday’s spectacular match at the Gabba that ended with a third premiership in four years for Richmond. 🔒 #wanews #perthnews #AFLGrandFinal #AFL

Last Thursday, AFL boss Gillon McLachlan said the success of the Gabba Grand Final would determine whether the decider would make a permanent move to a night-time slot.

Footballer Jason Akermanis holding AFL premiership at MCG 29 Sep 2001.Source:News Limited

Akermanis’ premiership-winning teammate Luke Power said the AFL needed to “move with the times”.

“We need to appreciate that it is a business, and if the best this commercially means that we do need to play the Grand Final at a different time, we need to be open to it,” Power said.

“If we get stuck in the past … other codes and other games will start to take over.”

Richmond star Jack Riewoldt said while his preference was a day Grand Final, he enjoyed experiencing the occasion at night.

“It’s a completely different spectacle,” Riewoldt said.

“I’m glad that I’ve experienced both.

“The game’s growing and evolving, and this year’s been obviously a different one, but we’ve been able to trial some stuff going forward, so I think whilst it’s been financially difficult for the AFL, there are some really positive lessons that have been learnt over the last six months.”

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