The AFL Grand Final is increasingly likely to be played interstate in 2020, with Sydney firming as the favourite amid Victoria’s recent COVID-19 spike.
All 10 Victorian clubs have been forced to leave the state ahead of borders shutting down, with Queensland and New South Wales currently housing all 18 clubs.
With Australia’s other states being relatively COVID-19 free to date, veteran AFL reporter Caroline Wilson revealed that this year’s decider could be played at ANZ Stadium.
“There’s every chance now that the Grand Final will leave Victoria. Sydney is framing as the favourite at the moment,” Wilson told Nine’s Footy Classified.
“Obviously, this would be a fantastic thing for the AFL’s push into the northern market (and) ANZ Stadium seems to be the ground.
“Sydney are the flavour of the month with the AFL at the moment because they’ve done the right thing by the AFL, (with) (NSW Premier) Gladys Berejiklian letting players move into Sydney and keeping the AFL season alive.”
While Queensland, Western Australia and South Australia all harbour hopes of hosting the AFL decider, Wilson revealed that WA and SA could be hurt by their decision to lock out AFL clubs.
“There’s a level of disappointment, not only from Western Australia, who have been firm from the beginning, but also South Australia, who had an opportunity to welcome clubs in and said no,” she said.
“I’m not saying the AFL is angry, but they’re a bit bemused that they were knocked back.”
According to Wilson, the AFL will make the final decision in August, with the venue to be decided irrespective of which team finishes at the top of the ladder.
In a sign of the times, Collingwood president Eddie McGuire, who has been vocal about the Grand Final remaining in MCG, admitted that the wheels were turning towards a one-off interstate decider.
McGuire revealed that the AFL could earn up to $50 million if it is able to fill a stadium for the Grand Final interstate, as opposed to playing behind closed doors at the MCG.
“Now, everyone is opening up their minds to what could be,” he said.
“The Victorian government spends $60 million on the Grand Prix every year, so there’s big money in these things.
“The economic impact of having a Grand Final anywhere outside of Victoria for a one-off season is big money. Don’t forget, if we can get 75,000 into ANZ Stadium or 60,000 over in Perth, you’re talking about what could be an extra $50 million coming back in.
“If you think you can get all the corporates, all the signage, you get the crowd, the TV and the full parade up there, then they’re going to push.
“The AFL are saying that this is an opportunity. For all the negative of COVID-19, it has been a boon for the national competition, particularly in the northern states, where with everybody up there, it’s the talk of the town.
“It’s almost Peter V’landys’ worst nightmare.”