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AFL 2021 Grand Final to be played at Perth’s Optus Stadium

AFL 2021 Grand Final to be played at Perth’s Optus Stadium
August 31, 2021

The 2021 AFL Grand Final will be played in Perth for the first time in the game’s history after the MCG was today ruled out of hosting the showpiece game on Saturday 25th September due to the ongoing COVID-19 lockdown in Victoria.

With spectators unable to attend the Grand Final's traditional home for a second successive year, AFL Chief Executive, Gillon McLachlan and Victorian Sports Minister, Martin Pakula today confirmed that the game would be relocated to Perth’s Optus Stadium.

This followed the Western Australian venue having been officially named the standby venue for the Grand Final last week.

With the AFL having made emphasised that it wanted to hold the premiership decider in front of fans, McLachlan stated “It has become clear, as we continue to navigate through these challenges that it wouldn’t be in the best interests of the community to host a Grand Final at the MCG this year in front of a crowd.”

Advising that the Victorian Government had held off on making a decision as long as possible, to give Melbourne the best possible chance of hosting the game, Minister Pakula said the AFL had reached a point where clarity and certainty on plans were required.

He noted “it wouldn’t be responsible for us to risk the health of Victorians by rushing back to crowds at a point where it is not safe to do so.

“It is a decision that is in the best interests of football. We would not seek to hold the AFL to the arrangement of holding a grand final to an empty stadium. It wouldn’t be right for the game, for the fans, and it isn’t something we were ever inclined to do.”

Despite the Grand Final's two-year absence from Victoria, McLachlan said the game would return to the MCG in 2022, adding “as the pandemic continued to challenge us, we looked at all the possibilities around holding the 2021 Grand Final at the MCG

"To all Victorians, we will be back at the MCG bigger and better in 2022."

In comments aimed at Victorian fans, McLachlan went on to say “to all Victorians, we will be back at the MCG bigger and better in 2022,” he said. “You have stuck by our game all year, and I know how hard it has been, especially how challenging it has been for the community of football. It has been a tricky season, not only for the AFL, but for all your leagues.

“I want you to know that priority of the AFL to have you back up and running for next season as you have our support.”

While a kick off time for the fixture has not yet been confirmed, it appears likely to be a twilight fixture in Perth to allow it to be broadcast in prime time on the east coast of Australia.

Melbourne Cricket Club (MCC) Chief Executive Stuart Fox said it was "heartbreaking" the grand final would not be staged at the MCG, which is managed by the MCC.

Fox advised “it's part of the MCG's DNA - so it's incredibly disappointing not to host the 2021 event.

"We have explored and exhausted all available opportunities to be able to host this year's grand final, however the current landscape in Victoria precludes us from welcoming members and fans into the MCG's stands.

"We feel for everyone in the MCG community, including MCC members, club members, footy fans and stakeholders who love to watch greatness come to life on the hallowed turf."

The AFL will now send an operational staff of between 25 and 30 people to Perth to work with stakeholders on the ground and ensure the League put on "an amazing spectacle" at Optus Stadium.

However, Australasian Leisure Management understands Melbourne-based media as well as players' families will not be able to travel to Western Australia for the game.

The Brownlow Medal function will also be held in Perth on Sunday 19th September to commence the Grand Final week celebrations.

As a result of the MCG missing out, the AFL has extended its hosting rights of the Grand Final to 2059.

The AFL will also schedule an extra eight matches at the venue across the next five seasons, 2022-26, and take more home-and-away games to regional Victoria during both the AFL and AFLW seasons.

The Gabba in Brisbane staged last year's season decider.

Other sports on the move
Ongoing border closures and lockdowns have this week seen Cricket Australia move the entire seven-game womens’ CommBank Series between Australia and India to Queensland.

Featuring three ODIs, one Test match and three T20s the series had been scheduled to begin in Sydney on 19th September before moving to Melbourne and Perth and then returning to the Nsw capital.

Cricket Australia has confirmed that the Great Barrier Reef Arena in Mackay, formerly known as Harrup Park, will host the first three ODI’s beginning from 21st September.

The Gold Coast’s Metricon Stadium will then host the women’s day/night test before also hosting three Women’s T20 games.

Speculation also suggests that the NRL will relocate its Grand Final from Sydney’s Stadium Australia to Suncorp Stadium.

Images: Perth's Optus Stadium (top), promotion for the relocated AFL Grand Final (middle) and the Gabba hosting the 2020 AFL Grand Final (below, credit: Blair Hughes).

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25th August 2021 - Decision on Tasmanian AFL expansion team to be made in 2022

25th August 2021 - Perth’s Optus Stadium to host 2021 AFL Grand Final if fixture moved from MCG

24th August 2021 - AFL reveals all-time record club membership

23rd August 2021 - Launceston’s UTAS Stadium to host AFL elimination finals

13th August 2021 - AFL report fails to present ‘clear cut’ option for Tasmanian team

3rd August 2021 - Construction commences on new rooftop viewing platform at Perth’s Optus Stadium

31st July 2021 - AFL and NRL fixtures cancelled as snap lockdown introduced in South East Queensland

28th July 2021 - No crowds to be allowed at AFL matches in Victoria despite COVID-19 lockdown easing

16th July 2021 - Victoria records two new cases of COVID-19 linked to AFL fixture at the MCG

1st July 2021 - Venues in regional Victoria see prospects for hosting AFL Premiership fixtures

30th June 2021 - State lockdowns sees all 18 AFL clubs relocate to Victoria

16th June 2021 - COVID-19 lockdown sees AFL move Melbourne fixtures to Tasmania

7th June 2021 - AFL hits Adelaide Crows with $50,000 fine following breach of COVID-19 protocols

13th April 2021 - Uncertainty over Victorian stadia returning to full capacity

7th April 2021 - AFLW grand final to be staged as standalone event with MCG a possible venue

11th March 2021 - AFL aims for 2021 grand final to return as a full capacity daytime fixture at the MCG

26th February 2021 - MCG set to welcome 50,000 fans for AFL season opener

10th December 2020 - Victorian authorities to allow 30,000 attendance at MCG Boxing Day Test

2nd September 2020 - MCG secures AFL Grand Final contract extension

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