AFL crowd-limits rise to 30,000 in Perth

Justin Chadwick
Optus Stadium in Perth could host up to 60,000 AFL fans by mid-July under WA government plans

The AFL has been handed a juicy carrot to create a hub in Perth after the Western Australian state government announced that crowds of up to 30,000 will be able to attend games from this Saturday.

And in an added incentive, the WA government plans to allow full-capacity crowds from July 18, meaning up to 60,000 fans could attend games at Optus Stadium.

WA's hard border closure has created a big headache for the AFL, who have been intent on finding a way around the state's required 14-day quarantine period for incoming visitors.

State premier Mark McGowan revealed on Monday that he had been planning to end the border shutdown on August 8 but that date has now been pushed back indefinitely due to the recent spike of coronavirus cases in Victoria.

However, McGowan said his government is still in negotiations with the AFL about the potential for Victorian clubs to join a Perth hub.

Even though the Victorian sides would have to spend a 14-day period in a hotel quarantine, they could be allowed to play one another within that timeframe, as well as train.

Once the 14-day period expires they would be free to play the WA-based clubs.

WA police commissioner Chris Dawson said the state will be in a position to finalise negotiations once more is known about the situation at Essendon, who are in isolation mode after defender Conor McKenna tested positive for COVID-19.

"Clearly we have a heightened concern about Victoria," Dawson said.

The potential to play in front of big crowds in Perth would be a huge temptation for the cash-strapped AFL and a boon for the sport.

West Coast and Fremantle are currently in a hub on the Gold Coast, with both clubs keen to head back home after their scheduled four-game stint in Queensland is finished.

The AFL has raised the possibility of the Eagles and Dockers spending an extra one or two weeks in the hub.

McGowan said any Victorian teams travelling to Perth would have to expect strict conditions.

"What we're dealing with here is bigger than football and football needs to understand they need to fit within the rules," McGowan said.

"They need to understand we're trying to protect the health and wellbeing and economy of WA, and they need to work within that.

"We'll continue to work with them. But there are things more important than football out there."