The AFL’s grand final plan is a slap in the face to 45% of fans

Andrew Mellor Roar Rookie

By Andrew Mellor, Andrew Mellor is a Roar Rookie


172 Have your say

    Friday’s announcement of a new 40-year to keep the Australian Football League grand final at the Melbourne Cricket Ground is a slap in the face, and a step back towards the old days of the VFL.

    I wonder if Gillon McLachlan and the rest of the AFL board understand that by hosting the grand final in the same city continuously, they are actually preventing people that live in Adelaide, Brisbane, Perth and Sydney – the four cities that host 45 per cent of the competition’s clubs – from attending the biggest game of the year.

    Let’s say Bill, 44 years old, is a Tigers supporter from Richmond who decides in 2016 he’s had enough of not seeing his team make a grand final, and purchases one ticket to the 2016 grand final to see the Western Bulldogs defeat the Sydney Swans for $190 (approximately).

    Then, in 2017, his beloved Tigers make the grand final and Bill once again is lucky enough to secure a ticket for $190 (cheapest again, approximately). He’s spent $380 and seen two grand finals in two years, pretty happy!

    Geoff, on the other hand, is a Crows supporter, who lives in Adelaide. He was only five years old when the Crows won their second flag, in 1998, and in he snags one of the cheap tickets to the big dance for $190.

    Now Geoff needs to get to Melbourne to see the game. The cheapest flights he can find is $500 each way, as the airlines increase prices when interstate supporters are looking for seats, and he has to take the Friday off work. Accommodation in Melbourne for Friday and Saturday night is split with a mate at $150 a night.

    Geoff watches his beloved Adelaide go down to Richmond for the cost of $1340, plus loses a day’s salary.

    $380 and two grand finals for Bill, who lives in Melbourne, $1340 for one grand final for Geoff, who lives in Adelaide. Hardly seems fair, and hardly seems like the AFL wants as many people as possible to go to the grand final.

    The AFL preaches equalisation, has a draft to allow weaker clubs access to quality players, has a salary cap on player payments, a salary cap on football department spending, subsidises weaker financial clubs with funds from stronger clubs, yet forces teams from outside Victoria to travel ten times a season (more if they make finals) and now has removed any chance of a non-Victorian club playing a grand final at home until at least 2058.

    Hardly equal – and I haven’t even mentioned the father-son-rule!

    But rather than just slamming the AFL for its grand final decision, here are two ideas that would’ve been worth considering.

    Last year’s minor premiers have the right to host
    The club must pay an amount to activate hosting rights, and has the right to refuse to host, at which point the MCG shall become host.

    So the Crows were 2017’s minor premiers, meaning in August 2017 they have earned the right to host the 2018 grand final. They pay the AFL $5 million (rough number) to activate hosting rights, or turn the opportunity down and it’s held at the MCG.

    Host stadium allocated based on percentage of clubs in each state
    Victoria have ten of the 18 clubs, which is 55 per cent, while NSW, Queensland, South Australia and Western Australia have eight, for 45 per cent.

    Let’s make that five out of nine at the MCG, with therefore the other four held interstate. As per the previous suggestion, a stadium must pay $X to activate hosting rights, with the right to refuse, at which point the MCG shall become host.

    Here’s hoping that someone can come up with a more equitable grand final arrangement – the AFL took five years to grant a non-Victorian club finals hosting rights, surely it won’t take another 40 years to work out that 45 per cent of their clubs and supporters exist outside Victoria.

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    The Crowd Says (172)

    • April 15th 2018 @ 3:02am
      Kurt said | April 15th 2018 @ 3:02am | ! Report

      On the plus side for Geoff he gets to spend a weekend in a vibrant, exciting city and spends one less weekend of his life in Adelaide. That’s got to be worth a bit.

      • April 15th 2018 @ 3:30am
        Virgil Starkwell said | April 15th 2018 @ 3:30am | ! Report

        Nailed it. ‘Geoff’ should be thankful for small mercies.

        • April 15th 2018 @ 5:35am
          Basil (the original) said | April 15th 2018 @ 5:35am | ! Report

          Yes the concrete cesspool that is Melbourne. 2 days is enough for Geoff.

      • April 15th 2018 @ 9:33am
        Fairsuckofthesav said | April 15th 2018 @ 9:33am | ! Report

        Cheap shot based on ignorance.

      • April 15th 2018 @ 11:12am
        BigAl said | April 15th 2018 @ 11:12am | ! Report

        Right On Kurt !

        Why don’t you and me put our genius minds together and work on a plan to get the grannie moved to New York City.

        Neutral venue – big big BIG smoke – a total win win ??!

      • April 15th 2018 @ 2:06pm
        Knoxy said | April 15th 2018 @ 2:06pm | ! Report

        I think Kurt just won the internet for the day with that comment!

    • April 15th 2018 @ 5:33am
      Griffo said | April 15th 2018 @ 5:33am | ! Report

      “Hardly seems the AFL wants as many as possible to the Grand Final”, funny, I would have thought the best way to do that would be to have the Grand Final where you can get the biggest crowd. Maybe the MCG?
      You can argue equalisation if you like but “not getting largest possible crowd argument” doesn’t stack up. Your solution seems to be to share the pain around. One season’s performance is no guarantee of the next and having the Grand Final away from the MCG means it’s more likely you have supporters needing to travel for it. A utilitarian approach would actually be the status quo.

      • April 16th 2018 @ 11:13am
        Confused said | April 16th 2018 @ 11:13am | ! Report

        The biggest Victorian crowd not the members of the team playing.
        It’s a disgusting and shortsighted decision which was completely unnecessary and unfairly benefits Melbourne teams and people.

        The fact that the MCG is the biggest ground NOW should not be a factor as the GL is a TV spectacle that is just a exciting with 50,000 attending.

      • April 16th 2018 @ 11:19am
        bryan said | April 16th 2018 @ 11:19am | ! Report

        How big a crowd will you get at the MCG for a Dockers -v- Eagles GF?
        A Crows-v- Port Adelaide GF?
        A Swans -v- GWS GF?
        Or any permutation of the above?
        You would easily fill Optus Oval with Freo or WCE against “anyone” GF, not so much, the “G”!

        • Roar Guru

          April 16th 2018 @ 1:09pm
          AdelaideDocker said | April 16th 2018 @ 1:09pm | ! Report

          I feel like for any of the potential derby grand finals – especially the SA/WA ones – you’d get huuuuuge crowds at the ‘G. You can guarantee that thousands of fans would travel, and there’d be a large amount of neutrals would be interested.

          I for one would love a derby grand final of any sort.

          • Roar Pro

            April 16th 2018 @ 7:16pm
            anon said | April 16th 2018 @ 7:16pm | ! Report

            And those poor fans would have to spend at least $3k per person to attend a game of footy, take time off work.

            Someone living in Melbourne just has to roll out of bed and catch the train to the MCG.

            To me, forcing interstate people to cough up $3k to watch their team play a Grand Final is a financial burden on these people. Maybe $5k for a couple because you save on accommodation. It’s a shabby way to treat people who are the lifeblood of the game.

            Above all it’s an issue of fairness for the competing teams.

            There’s no point playing football for 6 months to determine which two teams will face off for the title only for the integrity of the Grand Final result to be called into question because a Victorian team was gifted a home Grand Final and interstate team punished with an away final despite the interstate team being seeded higher.

        • April 17th 2018 @ 10:36am
          Perry Bridge said | April 17th 2018 @ 10:36am | ! Report

          Hmm….derby or show down matches I suspect would be appreciated by the neutrals – the GF is history unfolding.

          People still talk about Alistair Lynch in his last game (Bris v Port) swinging and not connecting, and from the Syd v WCE back to back GFs obviously the Leo Barry mark has gone down in history – people go no matter what.

          Melbourne as a city – I was working int he CBD back in 2004 and seeing the Brisbane and Port fans who had flown in for the GF parade – it may cost a pretty penny but it may be a once in a life time experience.

          At any rate – the thing I find ironic is that the NRL long ago got paid a princely sum of $45 million back in 2010 to retain the GF in Sydney for the next 10 years. That was money for jam that was. And now the NRL has committed for the next 25 years on the back of NSW Govt investment in ANZ and Allianz stadiums.

          By contrast – the AFL has perhaps caved in – however – it continues the trend that the Vic Govt has never invested heavily in the AFL. And then – only with strings attached. The MCC and MCG Trust have often been intractable – reticent to act and needing to be coerced by the AFL. As Neil Mitchell commented last week – he’s over his career spoken to Jack Hamilton, Ross Oakley, Wayne Jackson, Andrew Demetriou – and the common thread has been the lack of money coming from Spring St.

          The AFL therefore is left to build a sustainable model based on what it can control – I don’t always like it but nothing is going to be superficially simple. This deal last week was the end of a couple of years backroom negotiations and even then the announcement seemed rushed forward for state govt political expediency.

    • April 15th 2018 @ 6:50am
      Kris said | April 15th 2018 @ 6:50am | ! Report

      Neither Geoff or Bill is going. Mary from Accounts at one of the league’s major sponsors is taking her boyfriend Trevor who has never been to an AFL match but thinks it might be good for a laugh.

      • April 15th 2018 @ 7:11am
        Dave said | April 15th 2018 @ 7:11am | ! Report

        Jack from Perth spends his 190 bucks on a ticket to Bali and watches the gf on a big screen in a bar full of WestCoast or freo supporters. Then enjoys the rest of his holiday surfing.
        Gary from Melbourne can’t get a ticket to the gf and the ticket to Bali costs too much, spends his 190 on beer and food and watches the game at home.

      • April 15th 2018 @ 7:41am
        Internal Fixation said | April 15th 2018 @ 7:41am | ! Report

        Close but I think Bill, Mary’s boss, is taking her so he can get her drunk on massively overpriced bad champagne and yada yada yada….

    • April 15th 2018 @ 7:04am
      Rob said | April 15th 2018 @ 7:04am | ! Report

      The thing you neglect to consider in your article is the financial return having the grand final at the MCG with 100,000 in attendance provides the AFL with. Much much more than the piddling $5m you suggest clubs can purchase a home final with. Money that is critical in going to support and grow the game at all levels. If your plan was put into place then how many actual club members would get the opportunity to attend (remembering that both clubs get the same allocation each year)? By the time all the AFL corporates, holiday packages, AFL player tickets etc get taken you would be lucky to have 5k each left for club members at these 50k capacity grounds to see their club in the big dance – hardly seems fair. And what do you suggest for the Giants or Suns if they choose to activate their home ground advantage? No room for any club supporters at all!! Part of the ‘effect’ of home ground advantage is because of the overwhelming noise one team’s supporters can generate over the other. That’s not possible in a grand final with equal allocation to club supporters so the whinging done by clubs from interstate is partly sour grapes when they lose, not the reality of a real home ground advantage. You never hear an interstate club complain about home ground advantage when they win at the MCG! Here’s a tip for the losing side regardless of what state they come from – turn up to play and play your best. That’s how grand finals are won, and in playing the grand final at the MCG every year then the AFL (and footy in the bigger picture) wins, something that would not be the case at Adelaide, Perth, Sydney or Brisbane.

      • Roar Guru

        April 15th 2018 @ 7:43am
        The_Wookie said | April 15th 2018 @ 7:43am | ! Report

        Even the MCC pays up for the grand final – $250+ for each person in the members on the day, and between 16-20,000 of them alone. That alone is worth $4-5m to the league.

        Thats without the 23,000 AFL members who pay for the privelige, and would likely have access to the Grand Final regardless of where its held.

        5,000 AXXESS ONE members from Etihad Stadium are entitled to entry to the Grand Final – cant see that changing unless the AFL makes them AFL members under its stadium ownership.

        Then the MCG has a LOT of corporate boxes and seating that isnt matched anywhere else, except maybe ANZ.

        Then the 50,000 odd club members who pay a minimum $180 to go plus reserved seating fees.

        Then the attendance bonus for 100,000 people from the MCC if the AFL meets its quota for the year. This can be worth between $1.50 to $3.00 per head if footy brings in more than 2.1m patrons in a year. (last year 2.35m patrons through the gate would have been an extra $150,000 from the grand final alone)

        • April 15th 2018 @ 9:27am
          Gygox said | April 15th 2018 @ 9:27am | ! Report

          Wookie – I thought it was 30,000 MCC members? As I said in another post, a great pity the AFL did not reduce that to 20,000 with this new agreement

          • April 15th 2018 @ 10:38am
            Aransan said | April 15th 2018 @ 10:38am | ! Report

            I guess a number of members would be infirm or only interested in the cricket (Melbourne Cricket Club).

        • Roar Pro

          April 15th 2018 @ 8:12pm
          anon said | April 15th 2018 @ 8:12pm | ! Report

          I don’t understand why you are so concerned with how much revenue the AFL makes from the Grand Final.

          This is an issue of fairness not money. Otherwise we would schedule 22 Richmond games or 22 Collingwood games at the MCG every year.

          If money is such an issue, some of the shortfall can be made up by increasing ticket prices, hosting the game in prime time, asking for a hosting fee, etc.

          Sure, it might not be as much revenue generated as at the MCG, but the AFL’s media rights are worth $2.5 billion, interstate Grand Finals will grow the game in those states hosting the game, creates goodwill, and above all it’s fair.

          At the end of the day, we’re probably talking a $5-10 million shortfall in gate receipts for Grand Final day.

          What’s next. If GWS are hosting Richmond in a Preliminary Final do we just move it to the MCG so 95,000 turn up rather than 20,000?

          • Roar Guru

            April 16th 2018 @ 7:42am
            The_Wookie said | April 16th 2018 @ 7:42am | ! Report

            The AFL isnt a charity, and if it makes less money it has to charge fans more, give clubs less and cut distribuitions to state leagues.

            Theres a bigger picture here.

            • Roar Pro

              April 16th 2018 @ 2:07pm
              anon said | April 16th 2018 @ 2:07pm | ! Report

              If the AFL makes less money then they have less funds to burn on pet projects.

              They’ve spent hundreds of millions propping up GWS and the Suns, AFLW with free entry and national television coverage (despite virtually no-one watching) is subsidised by the men’s game.

              Governments and corporations love people with your mentality.

              • April 17th 2018 @ 10:43am
                Perry Bridge said | April 17th 2018 @ 10:43am | ! Report


                The AFL is able to keep costs down at junior level in particular – contrast junior registration costs against soccer.

                Auskick is one of the best value for money intro programs.

                And umpires – it takes a lot to provide umpires – and they get paid, goal, boundary and field all earn a little coin for doing their jobs (I’ve just started field umpiring this year after reading the writing on the wall re my Superules days). It’s a major under taking and Auskick, Juniors and decent umpires plus the coaching courses help build the foundation of the game moving forward.

      • April 15th 2018 @ 7:43am
        Jon Kau said | April 15th 2018 @ 7:43am | ! Report

        The home final system works fine in the A-League where 1) it isn’t entirely Melbourne based, 2) each ground roughly houses the same amount of fans sans a few thousand and 3) the league is relatively new compared to the VFL/AFL. That model along with the AFLW makes sense.

        But the AFL is about making as much money as possible for a Grand Final, plus getting bums on seats in the largest arena in Australia. If Adelaide, Sydney or Perth could get a stadium that seated 80,000+ then yes, but you won’t get that in Adelaide and probably not Perth.

        But having said that, I doubt I will ever get to any grand final, even if my team doesn’t make it.

        • April 16th 2018 @ 12:41pm
          bryan said | April 16th 2018 @ 12:41pm | ! Report

          The “A League”, unlike both the AFL & NRL was meant from its inception to be a national competition, rather than an expanded State comp, hence the portable GFs.

          Sadly, the “get bigger crowds ” mentality is alive & well in that League, with all the discussion on “expansion”
          centred on creating more NSW clubs, so it is going the same way.

          Wait for some smarty to suggest their GF to be always held in Sydney ( unless Melbourne poaches it , like they did with the Australian F1 GP, & the Vines Classic!)

      • April 15th 2018 @ 9:22am
        Internal Fixation said | April 15th 2018 @ 9:22am | ! Report

        The authors model is NOT my preferred model but your argument completely falls down on so many levels.

        1. Melbourne based fans can snap up other tickets (not the club allocation, but other clubs ) far easier than interstate fans and can afford to pay more for tickets because of no travel. Weren’t you watching last year? It was a massive tigers crowd.

        2. Let’s say at ticket current prices A generous $40-50 million is generated from the extra 40-50000 fans at the G. That is 10% of the broadcast deal per annum only! The interstate clubs contribute to at least 30-40% of the broadcast revenue.

        3. Why are tickets reserved for corporates only? Isn’t that everything that is wrong with the current GF?? Again – the broadcast rights are the key. How much do the corporates contribute to that.

        4. IF GF event is worth so much to the local tourism economy why wouldn’t SA and WA governments step up with some cash?

        For a truly national game the GF must move around. My proposal is a fixed rotation over 5 years – 3 at the G and one each at PS and AO initially. If a team is lucky enough to get a home advantage then good luck to them but at least it becomes a more random and therefore level playing field.

        • April 15th 2018 @ 9:36am
          Jon Kau said | April 15th 2018 @ 9:36am | ! Report

          “IF GF event is worth so much to the local tourism economy why wouldn’t SA and WA governments step up with some cash?”

          Yep, spot on. But I suspect the AFL house and Victorian governments have a strong connection.

          Plus the MCC basically holding everyone over a barrel because they can.

          • April 15th 2018 @ 10:26am
            Internal Fixation said | April 15th 2018 @ 10:26am | ! Report

            Hit Nail on head with MCC. Along with AFL members and Ethiad it is a rort to advantage the Old School and Corporate Victoria.

            Why do these people get automatic rights? They pay a lot of money I’m sure but the waiting list to be in these organizations is huge and only worthwhile if you are Victorian.

            Until the GF moves around it will always be the VFL.

            • April 15th 2018 @ 10:40am
              Aligee said | April 15th 2018 @ 10:40am | ! Report

              Some things you just have to suck and go – well it is a bit unfair but it is actually not going to change anytime soon.

              Why don’t you ask Sandgropers about GST ?

              Melbourne like it or lump it is our sporting capital and the Vic Government is going to see to it that it wont change,

              Likewise the MCG is the both the spiritual and historical home of the game and a ground that fits in 100,000 patrons.

              • April 15th 2018 @ 11:55am
                Internal Fixation said | April 15th 2018 @ 11:55am | ! Report

                But here was an opportunity to challenge that status quo and recognize a truly national game yet the VFL couldn’t let go.

                Pandering to Victorian interests, the MCC and corporate connections.

                AFL needs to reconnect with the fans.

                Neglecting Tassie and shunning WA and SA will mean the supporter base continues to be eroded.

              • April 15th 2018 @ 12:04pm
                Kangajets said | April 15th 2018 @ 12:04pm | ! Report

                What a statement the Afl could have made in nsw by having a grand final in Sydney

                Oops. The nsw government obviously were never interested because the Olympic stadium is going fully rectangular.

              • April 15th 2018 @ 12:22pm
                Aligee said | April 15th 2018 @ 12:22pm | ! Report

                I just don’t see it like that, i personally am happy the GF is played at the spiritual home of the game, i can see the alternative argument, i can even see the pandering to the corporates etc that the AFL has made, but for me it makes sense to have the game there.

      • April 15th 2018 @ 10:42am
        Wheely Bin Dan said | April 15th 2018 @ 10:42am | ! Report

        Your bias towards interstate clubs is showing -” so the whinging done by clubs from interstate is partly sour grapes when they lose” . Always remember where you would be without interstate clubs? Never forget interstate clubs like WA and SA have a near equally long history of playing football as VIC. There is undoubtedly a distinct parochial bias within VIC towards true equalisation of the code. Even the so called national football programs on TV are Vic-centric.

    • April 15th 2018 @ 7:45am
      Ed said | April 15th 2018 @ 7:45am | ! Report

      It has to be played in Melbourne it’s a victorian game the rest of the country could not really care .there is only minor interest interstate as the tV ratings show . It would never sell out if in NSW its a rugby league stronghold .wouldnt be a good look for the sport .

      • April 15th 2018 @ 8:52am
        Basil 1 of 2 said | April 15th 2018 @ 8:52am | ! Report

        Is that you, Mr McGuire?

      • April 15th 2018 @ 10:23am
        Ditto said | April 15th 2018 @ 10:23am | ! Report

        Ed, if Victorians are so interested in football, why did only 19K of them show up to watch St Kilda v Adelaide last week? If that game was in lil old Adelaide the crowd would have been 50K.

      • April 16th 2018 @ 11:53am
        bryan said | April 16th 2018 @ 11:53am | ! Report

        Victorian game?
        There are other States with a long history of Aussie Rules footy.

        Back in the 1950s,’60s & ’70s, the WANFL Grand Finals at Subi Oval would pull crowds of 50,000.( if it had been bigger, it would still have been filled.)
        That was when we still had a “grassy knoll” to stand on, before it became “all seated”, reducing the capacity by 6 to 7 thousand.
        Interstate games against the “big V” (who would load up their team with poached West Aussies), also regularly had attendances of 50,000, even if we got beaten most times.

        The SANFL in SA is the same story– massive crowds in the glory days.

    • April 15th 2018 @ 7:48am
      Bee bee said | April 15th 2018 @ 7:48am | ! Report

      But why would the AFL share their wonderful corporate money spinner. They can’t even give Tasmania or NT a team. They would rather fish out licenses to the disinterested people of GC and west Sydney. $$$ before fans. This is a Toxic attitude pervading many sports.