The annual calls of injustice at Collingwood and Essendon having a duopoly on the staging of a football match on ANZAC day, the most significant day on the Australian calendar, is beyond boring now.
A larger number of voices, many associated with clubs and many recognised as having significant opinion on the game, are disgruntled that two powerful Victorian clubs should share the day amongst all comers in the league or at least share the profits, and are missing a few valid arguments.
The suggestion by Leigh Matthews and Chris Scott, to at least share the profits from the game, in recent days is a farcical request.
Colingwood and Essendon would draw 80 plus thousand if they were to meet on another day anyway.
Would they be required to share the profits then?
Furthermore, Scott suggested – as they do in the SANFL – that it should be the previous season’s grand finalist’ competing in the biggest home and away game of the year.
Great idea if it is two Victorian teams, but with a national competition, would the MCG be sold out if it was Brisbane versus Port Adelaide or West Coast versus Sydney – grand finalists from the past decade – playing on 25 April?
Would these teams want to sacrifice a home game just to play at the MCG in April?
The AFL already has a ground rationalization fund, a special distribution fund and equalization fund when it comes to money generated from crowd numbers at larger drawing games.
Would Scott welcome sharing the profits of the very profitable Skilled Stadium where Geelong has up to seven home games a year there, with other less fortunate clubs?
I am almost keen for the AFL to schedule North Melbourne and the Western Bulldogs on ANZAC day next year.
Let’s celebrate a crowd of 70,000 turning up. Profits will be smaller but they will be split between two clubs who need it.
Then, the year after that, play a different set of teams again.
See if the crowd numbers dissipate further.
The tradition – albeit a short 17 years – of Essendon and Collingwood on ANZAC day is built around the lock-out of 20,000 fans in 1995, the fact that so many wanted to come to this game, that it was a pulsating draw, that the crowd averages more than 80,000 regardless of where the teams are on the ladder.
We are forever trying to change things in this country to be politically correct, making sure change traditions or rituals for fear of excluding the smallest minority.
In this case, the minority are 15 other clubs, and they are all compensated by the AFL anyway.
Let’s hope the AFL actually follow the mantra, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” for a few more years yet.
Although, stand by for this to be all talked about again next year. It’s becoming a tradition.