'Kidding yourself': AFL great lashes out over 'disgraceful' controversy

Chris Young
Sports Reporter

Former AFL star turned media commentator David King has hit back at critics who took a dim view of the league’s decision to proceed with round one on Thursday night.

AFL CEO Gillon McLachlan announced on Wednesday night that the 2020 season would get underway with no crowds, despite almost all other major sporting codes around the world shutting down due to the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19).

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The AFLW will proceed as planned, but the last two rounds before finals will be ditched - to the dismay of AFLW players.

King, speaking on AFL 360 after the decision was announced, slammed critics of the AFL who believed the league should be suspended, saying fans should be ‘excited’.

“If you’re angry about the game being on now, you’re kidding yourself — get excited,” King opined.

“I’m glad the players said yes; I’m glad the players have been so strong.

Former AFL player David King has praised the decision of the AFL and CEO Gillon McLachlan to proceed with round one of the 2020 season on Thursday night. Pictures: Getty Images

“Everyone has been having a go at them about the 20 per cent paycut this week, but if at any point during the process they got wobbly, we wouldn’t be playing tomorrow night.”

Fellow host, former Carlton great Mark Maclure, was in full agreement.

I’m proud of the game, I think it was a great decision,” Maclure said.

AFL slammed over decision to proceed with round one

Richmond's season opener against Carlton will of course be played behind closed doors at the MCG but the fact it's going ahead is music to the ears of most footy fans.

The decision to push ahead in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic came after a marathon AFL Commission meeting followed by a teleconference with all 18 club chief executives on Wednesday.

"I think the Commission needed to consider widely and understand the position clearly of the chief medical officer and the medical industry, of government, of our clubs, our presidents, our industry really," McLachlan told reporters.

Fans were divided over the decision, with many questioning the wisdom of going ahead with games in the current environment.

On the flipside, many others were excited the games were going ahead, providing some much needed respite from the pandemic.