Abbey Holmes calls out AFL over 'missed opportunity' around Australian F1 Grand Prix

The Channel 7 commentator has questioned whether AFL officials have failed to cash in on the influx of people to Melbourne.

Channel 7 commentator Abbey Holmes has questioned whether the AFL has missed an opportunity by not scheduling any night matches in Melbourne this weekend. Tens of thousands will descend on Melbourne this weekend to watch the Australian F1 Grand Prix, and Holmes reckons the AFL has failed to capitalise on the situation.

Speaking on the 'Footy Talk' podcast on Wednesday, the former AFLW player pointed out that people would've flocked to AFL games on Friday, Saturday or Sunday nights after attending the F1 at Melbourne Park during the day. But Friday night's match is in Adelaide, and on Saturday night it's in Sydney.

Abbey Holmes, pictured here during a Collingwood game at the MCG.
Abbey Holmes has questioned why there are no night AFL matches in Melbourne this weekend. Image: Getty

There is footy in Melbourne on Thursday night, so the St Kilda and Collingwood match will likely see a bump from F1 fans. But Sunday's match between Richmond and Port Adelaide in Melbourne will begin at 4pm - one hour into the F1 race.

"I think there might be a missed opportunity for the AFL in the way they've fixtured round two," Holmes said. "Thousands of people are descending on Victoria - coming to Melbourne for the grand prix - not just from Australia but around the world.

"There is not a night game in Melbourne on Friday and Saturday night. I've heard from a number of people over the last few days who've said 'we would've loved to have come to Melbourne, gone to the track during the day and then potentially gone and caught a game. We love our footy and we don't get the opportunity to come to Victoria often'. But there is not a night game at Marvel or the MCG."

A Sydney Swans game at the SCG.
The AFL will be in Sydney on Saturday night. (AFL Photos via Getty Images)

AFL could lose potential fans to NBL and A-League

Commentator Jack Heverin agreed with Holmes, saying: "The AFL hadn't thought of that". Heverin also pointed out that Saturday's match between Hawthorn and Melbourne at the MCG will take place right in the middle of F1 qualifying at 4.35pm.

"It's also a missed opportunity to bring new people into the sport," Heverin added. "All of a sudden they'll be asking 'what's on in Melbourne. I'm going to the grand prix in the day and I want to do something at night.' They'll go to this new sport, massive game at the MCG..."

Heverin suggested the AFL should move the 4pm game on Sunday back to 6pm so people will head to the MCG after the grand prix, which will run from 3pm to about 5pm. "It's a massive missed opportunity," he said. Heverin pointed out that the NBL have moved tip-off for Game 3 of the finals series back to 5.30pm for that exact reason, adding: "I think you'll find that game will be a sell-out come Sunday as a result."


Luckily for the AFL they won't lose any fans to the NRL, with the Melbourne Storm playing in Newcastle on Sunday evening. The A-League could potentially be big winners out of the situation, with Melbourne City playing the Newcastle Jets at AAMI Park at 5.30pm on Saturday. But Super Rugby have also seemingly failed to cash in, with the Melbourne Rebels playing in Wellington this weekend.