Queensland government 'categorically denies' AFL crowd claims

Sam Goodwin
Sports Editor
Annastacia Palaszczuk and the Queensland government have denied Caroline Wilson's report. Image: Getty/Channel Nine

The Queensland government says it is still considering a proposal to allow fans into the state's AFL stadiums as early as this week when the competition resumes.

Despite reports the all clear had been given for the Gabba and Metricon Stadium to be at 25 per cent capacity for games as soon as this weekend, the state government says that decision is still in the hands of Queensland's chief health officer Jeanette Young.

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Channel Nine’s Caroline Wilson made the stunning claims on ‘Footy Classified’ on Monday night.

“I can tell you all there will be crowds at the Gabba (Brisbane) and at Metricon Stadium (Gold Coast) this weekend,” Wilson said.

“Annastacia Palaszczuk, the Premier of Queensland, has announced that they will allow 25 per cent of every football stadium to be filled.

“Where the Gabba’s concerned, that’s around 10,000 or 11,000.

“The Gabba is not really ready to bring in that many people in this weekend. So on Saturday afternoon for the Fremantle game, they are going to bring in 1000 people.”

However it was reported on Tuesday morning that Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk and the Queensland government had “categorically denied” the report.

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Gold Coast chairman Tony Cochrane summed up the confusion on the Today Show.

“We are as confused as you are and as your good listeners and viewers are. We submitted a very detailed document through Stadium Queenslands last week on how we thought we could handle a very minimal crowd as a test case,” Cochrane said.

“I know the Gabba did exactly the same. We are talking sub 1000 people. We are not talking anything near the capacity of those stadiums. Ours being 20,000, theirs being nearly 39,000.

“We were told that would be looked favourably on. They would come back with us with a clear definition of how many we would experiment with but at the moment we are in complete limbo.

“We have not been given a clear indication of how that can proceed and how it can move forward. So it is as clear as mud.”

Cochrane said the only thing he was sure of was that the Suns would be playing the Eagles this week.

“You will certainly see a game this weekend, it is just a question of whether the games will be purely on TV or whether we can actually allow some members and corporates into those stadiums...,” he said.

“We are waiting really on a definitive answer today and we sincerely hope we get that sooner rather than later.”

Gillon McLachlan speaks to the media about the AFL's restart. (Photo by Quinn Rooney/Getty Images)

AFL boss happy to take financial hit

AFL boss Gillon McLachlan on Tuesday said that the league was ready to welcome back crowds “when we get the green light”.

“I think they're feeling optimistic up in Queensland... and we'll hear something this week...,” he told Triple M's Hot Breakfast.

Stadiums Queensland, which manages the Gabba as well as NRL venues in the state, said proposals from both codes to allow some fans back into stadiums on matchdays was being considered.

McLachlan said the league will cop further financial pain if it means passionate supporters are allowed back into games sooner.

Opening up grounds to a limited amount of people won't be profitable but McLachlan is unfazed despite the COVID-19 pandemic already bringing about the biggest financial crisis in the league's history.

“I think most of the crowds in the smaller numbers are going to be uneconomic,” McLachlan told Fox Footy.

“But our members and supporters have been unbelievable and are in the process of getting clubs through (this crisis).

“We'll be investing back in our supporters as much as anything to be able for them to go to the football.”

GWS have been pushing to allow corporate guests into this Sunday's match against North Melbourne.

Meanwhile, McLachlan is growing increasingly confident that Victorian games won't be played behind closed doors for the entire season despite infection rates there remaining higher than in other states.

with AAP