Gerard Whateley has savaged Gillon McLachlan’s suggestion the AFL grand final could be held at ANZ Stadium in Sydney.
With all of Victoria’s AFL clubs forced to relocate to interstate hubs after strict lockdown measures were re-introduced, the chances of the MCG hosting the season decider are fading fast.
The MCG has a contract to host the grand final until 2057, but extenuating circumstances allow it to be relocated.
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Professional sport in Victoria is off the table indefinitely and AFL clubs interstate for at least five weeks.
Speaking on Footy Classified on Wednesday night, veteran reporter Caroline Wilson said ANZ Stadium has emerged as a leading contender to host the grand final despite not having held an AFL match for the last four years.
“I think there’s every chance now the grand final will leave Victoria,” Wilson said on the Channel Nine program.
“Sydney is framing as the favourite at the moment. Obviously this would be fantastic for the AFL’s push into the northern markets.
“ANZ Stadium seems to be the ground. They were going to tear the stadium down and reconfigure it again. That hasn’t happened for financial reasons.
“Sydney have made a strong push, and Sydney are the flavour of the month with the AFL at the moment, because they’ve done the right thing by the AFL … in letting the players move into Sydney and keeping the AFL season.”
AFL CEO Gillon McLachlan also admitted Sydney is shaping as the alternative if the situation in Victoria doesn’t improve.
“At the moment we’ve got an agreement to play the grand sinal at the MCG and that’s where we are planning on playing the grand final,” he told The Daily Telegraph.
“However, if it was unable to be played there, for whatever reason, then there’s the prospect of taking it (elsewhere).
“Sydney is an amazing sporting town. It’s got a great venue at ANZ, as to do many other cities in this country.”
Disbelief over ANZ Stadium for AFL grand final
However AFL 360 host Whateley was gobsmacked to hear the news about ANZ Stadium, describing it as an ‘awful venue’.
“Just to confirm how abnormal these times are, the talk of ANZ Stadium - footy’s most despised ground - as the front runner as the grand final alternative should the MCG be out of the question,” Whateley said on SEN Radio.
“It’s not even listed in the Bible, the season guide, as an AFL venue. How could it possibly be considered as a possibility for the biggest game of all when it’s not even listed as an AFL venue?
“It’s a ghastly idea. Not because it’s Sydney, but because it’s an awful venue. It’s got nothing on Optus Stadium and Adelaide Oval. If there needs to be a rallying, we need to rally for Perth and Adelaide.
“ANZ Stadium, spare me.”
ABC Grandstand’s Brett Sprigg also described ANZ Stadium as “the Steven Bradbury of potential AFL Grand Final venues”.
As for Prime Minister Scott Morrison, he made it abundantly clear the topic wasn’t high on his priorities when asked about it on Wednesday.
“To be honest, where the AFL grand final is being played at the moment is one of the furthest things from my mind,” the PM replied to a reporter.
“The AFL I’m sure will sort that out and states and territories will sort that out.
“Right now we’re dealing with a pandemic outbreak in Victoria.”
Perth should get it 100% if it’s not played at the MCG.— Tobin (@therealMTobin) July 9, 2020
If not Melbourne, it has to be played in Perth or Adelaide. No other choice.— Scott Jones (@Zutroy_Jones) July 8, 2020
It's a shame our Gerard thinks Olympic Stadium is an "awful" venue. pic.twitter.com/5pFsNT39Ar— Peter Brown (@SydneyEditor) July 8, 2020