'An embarrassment': Footy great slams AFL crowd 'tragedy'

Chris Young
·Sports Reporter
·4-min read
AFL great Gerard Healy has called on the Victorian government to increase stadium capacity back to 100%. Pictures: Fox Footy/Getty Images
AFL great Gerard Healy has called on the Victorian government to increase stadium capacity back to 100%. Pictures: Fox Footy/Getty Images

The Victorian state government has copped a lengthy spray from AFL great Gerard Healy over crowd capacity, labelling the state's ticket zoning process for sporting events 'an embarrassment'.

Under current arrangements fans attending sporting events at venues like the MCG or Marvel Stadium must be seated in designated zones, which in some cases has seen groups of people separated from one another.

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Both the MCG and Marvel Stadium are hosting crowds up to 75% of capacity throughout the early stages of the season, however Healy told Fox Footy's On The Couch that number needed to be increased as soon as possible.

Comparing Victorian arrangements to those in other states such as New South Wales or Queensland, which are back to operating at 100% with less stringent seating rules, Healy said fans in Victoria were enduring a 'great inconvenience'.

Capacity and seating issues were top of Healy's list of complaints.

“At the present time in Sydney, they can go up to 100% (crowd capacity). They’re currently working on 75%. And it’s the same in Brisbane. If you ring up and you want to get 10 tickets, you can sit wherever you like," Healy said.

“At the moment in Melbourne and other stadia, if you ring up, your brother has to go over there, your mum has to go over there, you cannot go and sit in the same spot. And this is a joke.

“We are still operating under this archaic performance. The government has to fix it. 

"The Sports Minister needs to address this and get us here in Melbourne to at least 75% with no restrictions and pump it up to 100% so we can get a full crowd."

Healy continued, saying it was a double standard that major shopping centres, such as Chadstone, were open as normal but sporting codes were still subject to restrictions.

Victoria has gone more than 45 days without a locally acquired case of the coronavirus, further emboldening Healy's argument.

“James Merlino as the acting premier, do something, and the Sports Minister is a big Carlton man, sort it out because at the moment, it’s an embarrassment," he said.

Neale 'not 100 per cent' but will play on

Brisbane's Brownlow Medal winner Lachie Neale admits a nagging back injury is limiting him this AFL season but that it should "get better quickly" and is no excuse for the Lions' slow start.

Neale has been a dominant force since his switch from Fremantle three seasons ago, helping the Lions to back-to-back second place regular season finishes.

But a 1-3 start in 2021 is symbolic of his dip in form this season and the midfielder admits managing the mystery injury has been frustrating.

He said earlier this month that scans on his back revealed "not a great result" but he would continue to play through the injury, with Brisbane at home on Saturday against Essendon.

Brisbane star Lachie Neale says a lingering injury has kept him from performing at his best. (Photo by Daniel Pockett/Getty Images)
Brisbane star Lachie Neale says a lingering injury has kept him from performing at his best. (Photo by Daniel Pockett/Getty Images)

"Percentage wise, I don't know, it's hard to put an exact percentage on it ... not 100 per cent but good enough to play," he said on Tuesday when asked to assess his health.

"The thing that's affecting me the most is my ability to train consistently, so that's the most frustrating part.

"But I'm able to play and it's not getting worse ... it should get better pretty quickly."

He said that revealing the injury hadn't led to any extra attention from rivals who traditionally target the ball magnet.

"Not compared to previous seasons; I'm not playing my best footy at the moment but feel I'm getting towards that," he said.

With AAP

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