AFL's Christian Petracca slammed over 'really pathetic' fan criticism

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·Sports Reporter
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Christian Petracca attributed low AFL turnout at Melbourne games to an aging fanbase and colder weather, an opinion which has raised eyebrows. (Photo by Michael Willson/AFL Photos via Getty Images)
Christian Petracca attributed low AFL turnout at Melbourne games to an aging fanbase and colder weather, an opinion which has raised eyebrows. (Photo by Michael Willson/AFL Photos via Getty Images)

Melbourne premiership star Christian Petracca has been slammed over comments in which he attributed the Demons' relatively low AFL crowd numbers to an aging fanbase.

Crowd figures have largely been down on the last non-Covid-19 interrupted season in 2019, which some have attributed to a reluctance from fans to head to the footy.

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The Demons have attracted some criticism as reiging premiers with some observers tipping more fans would come out to celebrate last year's flag, however they still rank fifth in the AFL with an average of 33,717 supporters attending Melbourne games in 2022.

However, disappointing figures in recent weeks have prompted some concerns.

Top four clashes in the past two weeks against interstate sides Fremantle and Sydney, both of which the reigning premiers lost, drew substantially fewer supporters for what would otherwise be blockbuster matches between top of the table sides.

Just 29,812 showed up for the Fremantle game, while 32,753 game to see the Demons host Sydney, both matches at the MCG.

Speaking on KIIS 101.1 on Monday morning, Petracca put forward that older supporters were likely staying home to avoid the chilly conditions in Melbourne.

“We need a crowd first to actually get ourselves going, no one comes,” he said.

“When you come out and only see 30,000 there …”

“It’s Saturday arvo, Saturday night. We played 4.30pm last week against Freo — that’s not a great time for a Saturday night game.

“It’s just too cold at the moment, I don’t think people want to come. I find our age demographic for our fans is still quite older.”

His comments did not go down well with Footy Classified's Caroline Wilson, who said it was ridiculous for Petracca to blame winter weather in Melbourne for poor turnouts.

Christian Petracca slammed by Caroline Wilson over Demons crowd comments

The veteran AFL reporter said it didn't add up that fans of the reigning premiers were staying home because of the cold, when other marquee matches, admittedly including high profile Victorian teams, easily blew past the league average this season.

Wilson claimed she had been told anecdotally that roughly half of the crowd for last weekend's loss to Sydney were in red and white.

“Come on Christian, that’s a really pathetic excuse,” she said.

“That game, Saturday night game there was 15,000 Sydney fans there according to people I know at the game.

"So Melbourne supporters didn’t even turn up, nor did they turn up for the top-of-the-table clash the week before, 29,000.

Melbourne have lost two games in a row after winning their first 10 of the 2022 AFL season. (Photo by Quinn Rooney/Getty Images)
Melbourne have lost two games in a row after winning their first 10 of the 2022 AFL season. (Photo by Quinn Rooney/Getty Images)

“These are terribly disappointing crowds, the premiership rematch in Round 1, the AFL was talking 70-75,000 — it couldn’t even get 60,000.

“Why are the Melbourne supporters not turning up? For Christian Petracca to have to blame the weather, it didn’t worry the Carlton and Collingwood fans the previous week."

Carlton and Collingwood's clash attracted 80,627 to the MCG, a figure bolstered by the popularity of both teams in Melbourne.

Essendon great Matthew Lloyd was baffled as to why so few Demons supporters were showing up, given the years of misery the team endured to become the premiership winning powerhouse they have since emerged as.

“In a year or two’s time they could be down the bottom six or seven on the ladder, who knows," Lloyd said.

"They should be enjoying it and going to every game they possibly can.”

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