History is set to be made in the AFL after the game's bosses on Tuesday made the official call on the host venue for the 2021 decider.
Perth's Optus Stadium has been chosen to host the AFL grand final for the first time ever after an MCG decider was officially ruled out.
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On Tuesday, the Victorian government conceded the state's latest coronavirus outbreak and lockdown would result in the grand final being moved away from the MCG for the second successive year.
The showpiece game is scheduled for September 25, which will allow for a pre-grand final bye.
A time slot has not yet been confirmed, however, the grand final appears likely to be a twilight fixture in Perth to allow it to be broadcast in prime time on the east coast of Australia.
“2021 has proved to be really challenging on many fronts. We wouldn’t have reached this point without the support of all state and territory governments across the year,” AFL CEO Gillon McLachlan said.
“The announcement today gives us the clarity and time needed to deliver the competing clubs and fans, the best grand final experience possible – whether that is in stadium for those in Western Australia, or through the Channel 7 broadcast for millions of fans around the country and indeed the world.
“Western Australian footy fans are as passionate as any in the country and the stadium in Perth with a capacity crowd of 60,000 in attendance will be an amazing spectacle.
“An AFL operations team will soon be based in Perth after completing quarantine and work with the West Australian Government on the upcoming plans for further details to be released in coming weeks.”
Decision made in 'best interests of football'
As part of the decision to move this year's grand final, the long-term contract in place that grants the MCG hosting rights for the annual season decider has been extended to 2059.
The MCG will also host an extra eight games over the next five AFL seasons, while four AFLW matches will be taken to regional Victoria over the coming three seasons.
Victoria will also host the AFL draft until 2023, with this year's edition expected to be held as a virtual event.
"This is a decision made in the best interests of the health and safety of Victorians as we continue to drive down the current outbreak," Victorian sports minister Martin Pakula said.
"It's also in the best interests of football - if the grand final can be played in front of supporters, then it should be.
"We look forward to the grand final returning to its traditional home at the MCG in 2022 and for decades beyond."
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