Crowds on hold in Victoria
HOPES of Melbourne being able to host AFL finals games and the premiership decider remain in limbo after it was announced that fans will be barred from attending matches in Victoria for at least two more weeks.
Victoria premier Daniel Andrews confirmed the easing of lockdown restrictions in the state will begin at 11:59pm on Tuesday, but large gatherings are still barred.
It means round 22 is the earliest that fans can return to matches in Victoria in some capacity.
That is just three weeks from the start of the finals, and six weeks from the grand final.
During the last Victorian lockdown, it took seven weeks for crowd limits to be increased to 40,000.
Perth has emerged as a likely destination to host the entire nine-match finals series this year.
The 60,000-seat Optus Stadium earned rave reviews when it hosted the Richmond versus Essendon Dreamtime clash in round 12, with 55,656 fans attending.
Andrews knows his decision to ban fans from AFL matches for at least two more weeks won’t be popular, but he says it’s necessary to keep Victoria safe.
“I know that’s not necessarily news people want to hear but we have to be cautious,” he said.
“This has not gone away. It’s under control. But it’s in our country.”
Last year’s grand final was moved to the Gabba due to a COVID-19 outbreak in Victoria.
A total of 29,707 fans attended the match.
The AFL is desperate for the grand final to return to the MCG this year, but the situation is delicate and even a minor setback could ruin those hopes.
(C) AAP 2021