AFLW grand final venue change labelled an ’embarrassing stuff-up’


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    Brisbane Lions director and AFL legend Leigh Matthews has slammed a decision for the AFLW club to lose hosting rights for the grand final, calling it an “embarrassing stuff-up”.

    The inaugural AFLW decider – between the unbeaten Queenslanders and Adelaide – is set to be played at Metricon Stadium on the Gold Coast as a curtain raiser to the AFL round one Q-Clash on Saturday.

    The AFL’s preferred venue, the Gabba, was reportedly ruled out of contention when the pitch failed an inspection on Monday morning.

    The surface at the Test cricket venue is seen as unsafe to host the AFLW, three weeks after it was used for an Adele concert.

    Matthews savaged the decision.

    “If there Adele at Etihad , OK for footy 1 week later , Adele at Gabba , unsafe for footy 3 weeks later, who is liable for the embarrassing stuff up?,” the 65-year-old tweeted.

    Melbourne’s Etihad Stadium hosted the record-breaking British songstress for shows on the weekend just past and will host AFL matches from Saturday – six days later.

    Matthews accused Gabba groundstaff of putting the summer tenants ahead of AFL needs at the south Brisbane venue.

    “Wouldn’t it be great if the Gabba curator wanted a pristine football ground just as much as a pristine cricket ground,” he tweeted last week.

    In shambolic scenes just days from the showpiece match, the two clubs were at odds on where the match would be played on Monday afternoon.

    Brisbane insisted they were still “in negotiations” over the venue as Adelaide confirmed reports that Metricon Stadium would host the match.

    The Lions have played their women’s home games at the South Pine Sports Complex in Brendale, which has a capacity of just 3,000 and is unsuitable for the grand final.

    The league and the Lions were adamant they wanted the first AFLW decider played at the Gabba.

    A statement from Queensland Sports Minister Mick de Brenni earlier on Monday foreshadowed it would not be possible.

    “We have done everything possible to encourage the turf, but the speed at which the turf grows is outside of our control,” De Brenni said.

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    The Crowd Says (44)

    • Roar Guru

      March 20th 2017 @ 3:00pm
      mds1970 said | March 20th 2017 @ 3:00pm | ! Report

      Completely farcical shambles. Like in 2004, the Brisbane Lions have been shafted again. The poor Lions just can’t get a fair break.
      This will be a Grand Final where the crowd will be near-invisible because Suns members have the prime seats, and where Gold Coast’s sponsors will be on the ground signage.

      And for the Gabba to knock the game back because of a cricket game that isn’t till November is an absolute fiasco.

      • Roar Guru

        March 20th 2017 @ 3:14pm
        Paul D said | March 20th 2017 @ 3:14pm | ! Report

        As I said in the other thread, it’s precisely this sort of unhelpful grandstanding that saw Matthews eased out of the Lions boardroom. He has overlooked that Etihad does not have a permanent cricket square. If the Gabba has a drop-in wicket this isn’t an issue.

        I actually don’t mind this decision. It is a pointed reminder to the AFL of the regard (or lack thereof) that the code is held in Brisbane after a decade of neglect and should be a salutary lesson to not simply assume they can throw their weight around and get what they want all the time. They underestimated the clout Cricket Australia has at the Gabba in particular, as one of the last surviving permanent cricket wicket squares and one that has the most character in Australia.

        In hindsight it was a mistake to hold the concerts at the Gabba but there hadn’t been an event held at the Gabba like this for well over a decade and I don’t think they considered how much damage the grass would sustain. It’s not a hanging offence, the game will still be in Queensland and no-one will be under any illusions which teams are playing.

        It’s all very well to insist it should have been at the Gabba but in my view it makes more sense to play both games at the one venue even if that is on the Gold Coast.

        • March 20th 2017 @ 3:57pm
          KingCowboy said | March 20th 2017 @ 3:57pm | ! Report

          It says Brisbane Lion Director in the first sentence of this article????

          • Roar Guru

            March 20th 2017 @ 3:58pm
            TomC said | March 20th 2017 @ 3:58pm | ! Report

            He’s still on the board, but is no longer football director. He has much less influence. Paul’s comment is fair.

          • Roar Guru

            March 20th 2017 @ 4:03pm
            Paul D said | March 20th 2017 @ 4:03pm | ! Report

            Yeah that’s my bad. I thought he’d stepped down altogether. Didn’t realize he was still on the board.

            “In 2017, Matthews stepped aside from the roles of Football Manager and Deputy Chairman, after telling the Board that his work across the football media industry meant he could not commit to a major role on an ongoing basis. Matthews remains a Director on the Brisbane Lions board. “

            • March 20th 2017 @ 4:23pm
              KingCowboy said | March 20th 2017 @ 4:23pm | ! Report

              I read a lot of your stuff Paul D about there is very little exposure for AFL in QLD. I am no expert as it is not my code of choice but I think the Lions need people like Matthews talking about the game. Back in the early 2000’s I could name the coach and at least half a dozen players. Now i honestly don’t know one player or even who the coach is of the Lions. Gary Abblett is the only one I know from the suns. The visibility of the sport is a big issue that needs addressing IMO.

              • Roar Guru

                March 20th 2017 @ 4:41pm
                Paul D said | March 20th 2017 @ 4:41pm | ! Report

                I don’t know if you’re from Queensland or not but pure and simply the reason there isn’t any interest is because both teams have been terrible for so long.

                Queenslanders often get accused of being fairweather fans and while there is a whiff of truth to that it’s also true that crowds have slowly dropped off over time as people lose patience with two clubs whose prospects of making finals are seemingly terminal. In that sense it doesn’t really matter what Matthews says as only success is going to bring new fans back through the gate.

              • Roar Guru

                March 21st 2017 @ 9:31am
                Penster said | March 21st 2017 @ 9:31am | ! Report

                Correct Paul – and the womens footy being in the final ie success, could only help that cause. Granted it’s the AFLW, but it’s still positive PR. Think this is a badly missed opportunity. If the AFL only gave the Gabba a few weeks notice, then that’s really poor forward planning from a well resourced organisation. And I’m surprised Gabba management don’t stay one step ahead and pre plan for anything that may be pending. Don’t these stakeholders have weekly catch up meetings to flag pipeline events, iron out issues, discuss the price of sushi at the footy etc?

              • Roar Guru

                March 21st 2017 @ 11:39am
                Paul D said | March 21st 2017 @ 11:39am | ! Report

                Kevin Mitchell apparently has full and total control over the turf at the Gabba. What he says goes and Gabba management are more than happy to hide behind him.

                Have you looked at who is on the Stadiums Queensland board? Not an AFL bod amongst them. 2 lawyers, a marketer, 2 professional board members, an accountant and the former CEO of the Cowboys.


        • Roar Guru

          March 20th 2017 @ 3:58pm
          TomC said | March 20th 2017 @ 3:58pm | ! Report

          No, let’s grandstand on twitter. Let’s demand answers.

          This is hardly the first time an oval has hosted a pop concert. Of course there would be some impact, and that impact could be assessed by researching what has happened at every other similar venue that has held similar events. If the Gabba couldn’t be sure they could hold this event and also meet its commitment to a sport with which it has a 25 year existing relationship, then it shouldn’t have held this event.

          It might make more sense in your view to have the two games at one venue, but for most that is clearly not the preferred option. This is only happening because Stadiums Queensland couldn’t make the Gabba available. This is a serious failing for an organisation with a pretty simple mission – to make sure Brisbane can host events like this one.

          So lets keep tweeting until SQ and the Qld Government tell us exactly how they’re going to prevent this from happening again.

          • Roar Guru

            March 20th 2017 @ 4:09pm
            Paul D said | March 20th 2017 @ 4:09pm | ! Report

            Not hold concerts at the Gabba anymore. Or switch to a drop in wicket. That’s the only two ways this gets resolved in future.

            I’m more concerned with what happens in future – saying the concert shouldn’t have been held is all well and good but it was held, it was a fantastic show (I’m biased, I was there for the first one) and I thought it was brilliant.

            I maintain the push for a drop-in wicket is the correct course of action and will occur naturally once Crossrail is completed and the Gabba becomes an option for more large scale events like this in future. Having the ground held hostage by a permanent cricket wicket is ultimately not sustainable given the rather meagre financial contributions cricket makes to the upkeep of the ground and the infrequent use it gets as an actual cricket ground.

            • Roar Guru

              March 20th 2017 @ 4:16pm
              TomC said | March 20th 2017 @ 4:16pm | ! Report

              My understanding is that there are some practical difficulties in a drop in wicket for the Gabba. Apparently there might not be an entrance to the playing field wide enough, without structural supports in the way.

              But I agree that ultimately its unsustainable for a venue like the Gabba to be configured for cricket alone. I don’t agree however that it’s okay that they just figure this out as they go. Many other stadiums have dealt with hosting multiple events in short succession before. They’re not doing anything for the first time.

              • Roar Guru

                March 20th 2017 @ 4:23pm
                Paul D said | March 20th 2017 @ 4:23pm | ! Report

                Fair enough about the wicket – on reflection you’re probably right too, they probably would need alterations to fit one in. It’s a bit cramped at the entrances.

                I guess I’m more forgiving – I know it’s not the first time, but it was well over a decade since there’s been anything other than cricket or AFL at the Gabba, there was a British Lions game there back in 2001 I think. No idea when the last concert was that covered the turf. I just think – you know what, they tried something, made a mistake, let’s learn from this and move on.

                In reality there’s no chance in hell the Gabba gets an uplift until the new train line is finished and demand for seats becomes overwhelming. And even if they do revamp it there’s a host of difficulties to that, not the least of which is that the upper parts of the grandstands already extends some metres over Vulture and Stanley street airspace, not sure how much bigger it can get without the decision to eat into the road itself.

      • March 20th 2017 @ 8:27pm
        Mark said | March 20th 2017 @ 8:27pm | ! Report

        I think you’ll find the cricket is actually an ashes game against the Poms. Hardly just another game. If the grounds not ready it’s not ready, simple as that.

        • Roar Guru

          March 20th 2017 @ 9:40pm
          TomC said | March 20th 2017 @ 9:40pm | ! Report

          There are Ashes series every three years, Mark. Just another cricket game.

          It is not believable that the ground couldn’t have been gotten ready. ‘Simple as that’ is the argument of the simple.

    • March 20th 2017 @ 3:56pm
      Craig said | March 20th 2017 @ 3:56pm | ! Report

      Hardly the first time that previous events at a stadium have ruined the game for an upcoming event. A few years back the soccer game held at Suncorp ruined the surface for a state of origin.

      As has been mentioned, it was organised to hold the adele concert at the Gabba long before the AFL W Lions team made the gf. They were predicted to make the spoon remember? Crowds have also surpassed all expectations.

      Whilst its disappointing, I’m sure all efforts were made to do what they can. The simple fact is, you don’t want to risk the ground by squeezing in an extra event, regardless of its an AFL sanctioned event or not.

      • March 20th 2017 @ 3:58pm
        KingCowboy said | March 20th 2017 @ 3:58pm | ! Report

        What have the crowds been like in QLD?

        • March 20th 2017 @ 5:06pm
          Maggie said | March 20th 2017 @ 5:06pm | ! Report

          Three home matches all played at the South Pine complex where there is no grandstand and spectators were advised to bring their own chairs and umbrella. Attendance was 5,500 in 36 degree heat, 3,500 in 30 degrees and 4,200 at 10 am on a Saturday morning. Pretty good in the conditions.

          I expect there will be a contingent of travelling Crows supporters. So a grand final crowd of up to 10,000 probably could have been expected at the Gabba, although the clash with the Qld AFL derby match on the same day complicated the timing anyway. Hopefully they will get a good crowd at Metricon particularly if good transport options are organised (as seems to be in planning).

          As I’ve said earlier, had the Crows been minor premiers, I’m sure they would have attracted something like 25,000 at the Adelaide Oval. Big AFL support in Adelaide and Adelaide people love the Adelaide Oval. But I’m sure the Lions prefer their home state advantage!

          • March 20th 2017 @ 8:21pm
            Mark said | March 20th 2017 @ 8:21pm | ! Report

            Actually all the crowd numbers you quote are round figure estimates. South Pine is listed as having a capacity of 3,000 so it is laughable all the ‘estimates’ are way over that amount. I would say they were getting around 1 to 1.5 thousand.

    • Roar Guru

      March 20th 2017 @ 4:27pm
      TomC said | March 20th 2017 @ 4:27pm | ! Report

      Greg Swann fuming about this.

      It must be a serious reality check for a guy who’s come from Carlton and Collingwood to get to Brisbane and realise that many of your stakeholders just don’t see AFL as that big a deal.

      • March 20th 2017 @ 5:07pm
        Maggie said | March 20th 2017 @ 5:07pm | ! Report

        Ha! Very true.

    • March 20th 2017 @ 4:38pm
      SonOfLordy said | March 20th 2017 @ 4:38pm | ! Report

      Would have been lucky to have 3k people at the Gabba even with free entry.

      Merely a “business decision” by the AFL so they don’t lose face.

      By the way, if it’s good enough for interstate teams in the women’s comp to earn home ground/state advantage for the Grand Final, then it’s surely good enough for the men. To deny the men’s interstate teams the home field/state advantage they earned for the biggest game of the year is PURE DISCRIMINATION.

      By playing the final in Queensland the AFL is implicitly admitting that it’s only fair to give home ground advantage in the Grand Final to the team that earned it!

      The AFL has now set a precedent for the women that now needs to be applied to the men’s game purely in the interests of fairness and equality.

      • Roar Guru

        March 20th 2017 @ 4:45pm
        TomC said | March 20th 2017 @ 4:45pm | ! Report

        Well, that’s obviously total nonsense.

        Geez, the women’s sport haters are seriously unhinged.

      • Roar Guru

        March 20th 2017 @ 4:47pm
        Paul D said | March 20th 2017 @ 4:47pm | ! Report

        Totally wrong on crowds and reason for shifting game. Devalues your second point which is actually a good pickup, on principle – at the very least it confirms that the reason for the grand final being played at the G is PURE COMMERCIAL CONSIDERATION. Which we all knew anyway though.

        You’re great at making arguments that are idealistic points of principle that completely ignore the dirty reality of the world we live in.

        • March 20th 2017 @ 4:58pm
          SonOfLordy said | March 20th 2017 @ 4:58pm | ! Report

          The NFL and UEFA don’t feel the need to play the Super Bowl and Champions League Final at the biggest venues available. They rotate them.

          If the NFL and UEFA — who have far greater demand for ticket to their finals — think it’s reasonable and just to play their showcase matches at venues that aren’t the highest capacity available, then I’m sure the AFL can find a way to rotate their final given a far smaller demand for tickets.

          Basically the AFL is more commercialised than the NFL and UEFA and you think that’s okay.

          • Roar Guru

            March 20th 2017 @ 5:00pm
            Paul D said | March 20th 2017 @ 5:00pm | ! Report

            I actually don’t think it’s ok, I just don’t see the need to keep repeating the same old predictable rubbish ad nauseum and bore the pants off everyone on this site. Have heard this argument so many times before. Go away.

            • March 21st 2017 @ 8:41am
              Steve009 said | March 21st 2017 @ 8:41am | ! Report

              I agree that we’ve all heard it all before, but the MCG grand final in a National competition isn’t something that should just be quietly accepted.

    • Roar Guru

      March 20th 2017 @ 4:53pm
      SportsFanGC said | March 20th 2017 @ 4:53pm | ! Report

      A couple of points on this scheduling issue for the Lions AFLW Team and Brisbane in general:

      1. Is the Gabba a necessary size/choice of venue?

      All parties involved knew the dates of the Adele concert and the date that the AFLW GF was going to be held even though this was only hypothetical at the beginning of the season. There was always the possibility of significant grass damage which happens at all venues when they host concerts rather than sport.

      Surprise surprise the grass was damaged and with 4 heavy days of rain since last Thursday and more expected through until Saturday the ground won’t be in shape to host the GF.

      Why can’t the final be held at the South Pine Complex where the Lions have established a great home ground advantage? Or the Moreton Bay Sports Complex?

      Does the GF need to played in a 45K Stadium?

      Outside of the first game of the season I don’t recall the crowd figure being mentioned again since then.

      2. AFL in Brisbane

      PaulD mentions this above, however this situation might be the kick in the pants that the AFL needs in Queensland to realise that the AFL doesn’t get its way up here simply because they get their way in Melbourne, Perth, Adelaide and Tasmania.

      There is no way that Cricket pays for the Gabba by virtue of hosting 1 test, 4 BBL Games and a few other T20’s and ODI’s each year – the stadium would become the ultimate white elephant.

      However, it is also clear that Cricket has the major say in what happens at the Gabba far and above the AFL and Gill and Co need to actually occasionally spend some time up here canvassing politicians and decisions makers.

      Next time anyone is at the Gabba check out the Brisbane Lions signage at Gate 2 as you walk in – it’s the logo the Lions were using 15 years ago, yet to be updated to current signage for the Lions.

      This all leads into my next point.

      3. Brisbane Lions Elite Training and Administration Facility

      The Lions proposed a fantastic concept for an Elite Training and Administration Facility near Brisbane Airport last year.

      It will bring the Club into line with the 17 other AFL Clubs but will also have space to accommodate the AFLW Team and provide them with a ground to host games during their season.

      There has been no news about it since the announcement.

      The Lions have the worst facilities in the AFL at a time when a Club’s facilities and professional set up is a very key plank in retaining and recruiting players. Fremantle and the Gold Coast moved into their new homes this year and when West Coast move into their new digs next year the Lions will be as far behind as they have ever been since training out of demountables on the GC during the Skase era.

      The Brisbane Broncos are rebuilding their Red Hill base to the tune of $30M, the Brisbane Roar are building a brand new facility at Logan, the Queensland Reds have a quality set up at Ballymore and both Gold Coast teams moved into new facilities this year.

      Brisbane Lions are the only Club left behind in SEQ at present.

      The AFL need to get up here and do some work.

      4. Leigh Matthews on Twitter

      Give me a break.

      • Roar Guru

        March 20th 2017 @ 5:04pm
        Paul D said | March 20th 2017 @ 5:04pm | ! Report

        All great points as usual SportsFan. I do recall an article mentioning that the game against the Bulldogs in round 23 of 2015 was the first time in donkey’s years an AFL board member had come up here to watch a game. Or maybe it was Gillon. I can’t remember exactly, but it had been an awfully long time.

        Matthews reportedly bellowed at the AFL board “do you want a team in Brisbane or not” when they weren’t taking him seriously on how grim things are up here and it’s one of the few comments he’s made I wholeheartedly agree with in recent years. As you say there has been a decade of underinvestment in the Lions because the AFL got scared of creating another Sydney Swans and the hue and cry from Melbourne. They assumed 3 premierships would stand forever and always bring the faithful back, took their eye off the ball and here we are now where the AFL gets given the finger because the quality of grass for a game not due to be played till November is seen as more important. At least they’re left in no uncertain terms where they stand up here.

        • Roar Guru

          March 20th 2017 @ 5:12pm
          SportsFanGC said | March 20th 2017 @ 5:12pm | ! Report

          Definitely a seminal moment for Gill and the boys at the Docklands HQ.

          FWIW they have got the Suns finally set up correctly (Head Coach pending come season 2018) on and off-field and they absolutely must address the Brisbane Lions this year.

          The Lions on-field are in rebuild mode but need the momentum and positive energy new facilities will bring and even small things like the current up-to-date Lions logo everywhere around the Gabba.

        • March 21st 2017 @ 9:18am
          Steve009 said | March 21st 2017 @ 9:18am | ! Report

          It’s all good and well for Gill to stand in front of a camera a few days before the grand final and say that he is fuming, but the decision is a result of the AFL’s decade long neglect of Brisbane. Adele does has a bigger voice up here than the AFL.

          The Melbournecentric AFL is delusional as to its place in not only world sport, but Australia. Most people in QLD have little if any interest in it.

          If the afl actually want to grow the game in Brisbane and gain a competitive presence, then they need to start investing time and money into it.

          This should be a lesson of where their standing really is in Brisbane, unfortunately the lesson comes at the expense of a tremendous season by Brisbane Lions AFLW’s team, that has had people in Brisbane talking (not as much as they were talking about Adele though).

          • March 21st 2017 @ 11:34am
            DB said | March 21st 2017 @ 11:34am | ! Report

            Where do the AFL see themselves in world sport or indeed Queensland? Don’t think I’ve ever heard them make a claim one way or the other.

            • March 21st 2017 @ 6:53pm
              Steve009 said | March 21st 2017 @ 6:53pm | ! Report

              The AFL are always talking themselves up as one of the world’s great/best run sports, but the reality is it is insignificant on the world stage and is heading in that direction in QLD if this new attempt of the lions at rebuilding fails.
              From the afl bubble of Melbourne the afl don’t realize how small they really are and if they truly want the game to grow in the northern states they need to invest significant time, money and thought into the 2 states (not just bankrolling their 2 new teams).

      • Roar Guru

        March 20th 2017 @ 5:13pm
        TomC said | March 20th 2017 @ 5:13pm | ! Report

        The Strathpine venue seems to barely accommodate AFLW home and away games, let alone the Grand Final.

        It should be a marquee game, and a climax for a successful inaugural season. It also wouldn’t hurt to get alone a few Brisbane-based AFL fans who wouldn’t necessarily sign up for a membership.

        • Roar Guru

          March 20th 2017 @ 7:07pm
          TomC said | March 20th 2017 @ 7:07pm | ! Report

          South Pine. Sorry, brain fade.

    • March 20th 2017 @ 8:13pm
      Alicesprings said | March 20th 2017 @ 8:13pm | ! Report

      Amateur hour stuff.

      What have the GABBA staff been doing for the last 3 weeks?

      Solution to stop this fascicle situation in the future – drop in pitch – how hard can it be?

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