AFL confirms huge call on Grand Final after Covid chaos

·Sports Reporter
·2-min read
Gillon McLaughlin (pictured) answering a question during a press conference.
Gillon McLaughlin (pictured) announced Perth was officially the back-up city to host the AFL Grand Final if Melbourne remains in lockdown. (Getty Images)

AFL boss Gillon McLaughlin has revealed the 2021 Grand Final will be played at Optus Stadium in Perth if Melbourne is still lockdown due to Covid-19.

Perth was confirmed as the city on standby to host the AFL grand final after Optus Stadium was officially named the standby venue for the season decider.

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Melbourne has been in lockdown since July 15 and recorded a worrying 45 further cases on Wednesday.

As a result, the showpiece game is poised to be moved from the MCG for the second consecutive season amid Melbourne's latest coronavirus outbreak.

AFL chief executive Gillon McLachlan said the game hadn't yet been taken away from Melbourne with the league waiting on the Victorian government's decision on whether the MCG could host it, but Perth had been locked in as a back-up.

"If we're unable to play at the MCG, the Grand Final will be at Optus Stadium. Our priority clearly will be the health and safety of the West Australian community," he said at a press conference on Wednesday afternoon.

We'll work through the quarantine facilities and restrictions for our playing groups and it will be an amazing venue in the event the MCG is unavailable."

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The AFL has made it clear it wants the remainder of the season to be played in front of crowds.

But team managers are fully aware the final will most likely be held in Perth.

Melbourne and Geelong will travel to Perth after their respective qualifying finals against Brisbane and Port Adelaide at the Adelaide Oval.

"Win or lose, we'll be off to Perth," Melbourne coach Goodwin said.

Players compete for a mark during the round 23 AFL match between Essendon Bombers and Collingwood Magpies Giants at Melbourne Cricket Ground on August 22, 2021 in Melbourne, Australia
The MCG (pictured) is unlikely to host the AFL Grand Final for the second year in a row. (Photo by Quinn Rooney/Getty Images)

"We start our quarantine bubble tonight then off to Adelaide on Friday.

"The information we've got is we'll head to Perth on Sunday."

Geelong will travel with their full squad and, like Melbourne, only return home once their season is over.

This week's qualifying finals are being played at Adelaide Oval while Launceston is hosting Sydney-GWS and the Western Bulldogs-Essendon elimination finals.

Bombers coach Ben Rutten expects to fly to Tasmania on Saturday ahead of Sunday's clash with the Bulldogs and remain on the road if they win through to the second week of finals.

Rutten expected to take a large travelling party to Tasmania in preparation for a potentially extensive stint interstate.

with AAP

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