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It really is Victoria’s Football League: How interstate clubs are significantly disadvantaged in the current game

Mia Burdack new author
Roar Rookie
7th June, 2024
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Mia Burdack new author
Roar Rookie
7th June, 2024
24
1058 Reads

It’s an age-old controversy that’s often quickly disregarded by our Victorian counterparts but can’t be denied nonetheless – Victorian football clubs have an advantage in almost every facet of the modern game.

From travel times to ground advantages and home crowd exposure, the 10 Victorian football clubs simply get it easier, and it seems that this outright bias goes unnoticed by the league.

Damien Hardwick commented earlier this season regarding the unfair advantage Melbourne-based teams receive regarding travel and it’s obvious that these clubs take for granted their easy accessibility of games and home accommodation that comes with the Melbourne lifestyle.

General views of the empty stands at the MCG.

(Photo by Quinn Rooney/Getty Images)

During the 2020 pandemic, the football world saw the intervention of ‘hubs’, small bubbles in which AFL teams lived interstate due to restrictions.

This saw football change drastically within the year from both performance and team bonding perspectives however, was this not a similar circumstance many interstate clubs endure within a standard season?

The constant travel and hotel accommodation would suggest just that.

The West Coast Eagles and Fremantle Dockers take the brunt of this travel bias, with both clubs combined expected to spend just under 200 hours within the 2024 season flying.

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This is equivalent to approximately 40 footy matches spent in the confinement of an aircraft.

Although there is nothing the AFL can do to bridge the 2,700 kilometres divide that separates the West Coast from the footy capital of Victoria, there has to be a form of compensation for these interstate clubs.

Yet the state bias doesn’t stop there.

The MCG is the home ground for four Victorian teams, and Marvel Stadium is the home to five.

This often means that these teams play on their ‘home ground’ significantly more than that of an interstate club. This ability to play on a ground of familiarity, questions the impartiality of the league.

This Victorian bias continues deep into September where a home ground advantage could be a differentiating factor between two quality sides on Grand Final Day.

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Chris Scott and Joel Selwood of the Cats hold the premiership cup aloft.

(Photo by Michael Willson/AFL Photos via Getty Images)

Is it fair to say the Pies had an advantage in the 2023 Grand Final due to performing on their home ground and thus playing significantly more games throughout the season on the hallowed turf in comparison to the Brisbane Lions?

However, the benefits don’t just apply to the players but extend to the fans too.

Home grounds bring home crowds providing more opportunities to see their beloved clubs in action, while simultaneously allowing for more support for teams throughout the season.

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Despite seeming to be a minor factor in the overall game, it has been consistently proven that when crowds get behind their club, performance notably increases.

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The infamous Collingwood chant is a prime example of the firing and intimidating power of supporters.

It’s inevitable that Victoria has and will continue to be the home of the AFL, yet you’d think that after 34 years our Victorian friends would begin to realise that modern football is now a national affair.

So, it is time to make some adjustments in order for all interstate and Victorian clubs to be provided with equal opportunities to excel in the AFL season.

Or will the Victorian bias continue to go ‘unnoticed’ by the league?

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