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AFL fans were left gobsmacked on Friday night over farcical scenes at GMHBA Stadium for Geelong's clash with the Western Bulldogs.
The Victorian government announced this week that only 7000 fans would be allowed at the 36,000-seat Kardinia Park ground, despite easing some restrictions across the state.
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Tickets were only available to Geelong and Western Bulldogs members, while those attending had to reside in the Greater Geelong, Surf Coast, Queenscliffe or Colac Otway local government areas.
But there was bewilderment on Friday night when the 7000 fans who were allowed into the ground were all put in the one section of the stands within close proximity of each other.
Comedian and TV personality Dave Hughes was among the many to question the logic of the bizarre situation.
"If you are only allowing 20% spectator capacity cos you fear Covid spread, why are you jamming them all together," he tweeted.
"Wouldn’t you space them out? Most of the ground is empty. Where’s the logic? I know it costs more to open more stands but I thought it’s about health?"
Former Herald Sun journalist expressed similar sentiments, tweeting: "Madness of 7k crowd limit at Geelong is highlighted by expanses of empty grandstands where lots of punters could sit 10 seats apart if necessary. Just one more overblown “no you can’t” rule."
There issue was highlighted in farcical scenes during the match when Geelong star Isaac Smith was forced to fetch a ball from the stands because there were no fans to throw it back.
Chris Scott blasts crowd cap for Geelong game
Earlier this week, Geelong chief executive Brian Cook estimated the club would lose up to $900,000 by having no crowd and believed only at 50 per cent capacity crowd could see the Cats host a profitable event.
Coach Chris Scott said the Cats would take the "small wins" but was puzzled by the crowd cap when the Geelong region has been unaffected by cases during Victoria's latest COVID-19 outbreak.
"It's incredibly disappointing we can't get more people here given the environment we find ourselves in regional Victoria," Scott said.
"It's obviously going to be a challenge for the club, and a lot of clubs are in that position at the moment where we fought through 18 months of this and it's been a huge financial burden.
"For them to endure even more through what feel like is the final throes of the pandemic is a challenge but one we have no choice but to accept.
"The positive is we're getting 7000 supporters at the game.
"In regional Victoria the world's been relatively open for a period of time, it's certainly different in Melbourne."
Scott claimed the Cats had no say in whether the game stayed in Geelong or was moved interstate where a bigger crowd could attend.
"I think it's very nice of the AFL to say that they consulted closely with us but that's not my understanding. It's not a whack at the AFL by the way," Scott said.
Meanwhile, Gary Rohan's set shot after the siren snatched a thrilling five-point victory for Geelong.
Toby McLean gave the Bulldogs the lead with four minutes to play on Friday night when he capped his return from a nine-month lay-off with a knee injury by rolling through what could have been the match-winning goal.
But the frantic final stages ended with one last forward thrust for the Cats, with Smith's pass finding Rohan, who took a strong mark 40 metres from goal on a tight angle.
Rohan's shot started to the right but straightened up and sailed through to give Geelong a 12.11 (83) to 11.12 (78) victory.
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