It would be “selfish” for any Victorian club to push for any AFL finals to be played in Melbourne without crowds according to Port Adelaide coach Ken Hinkley.
As many as five Victorian clubs could qualify for the post-season, including three in the top four with potentially two earning the right to host a final.
The AFL is preparing to move the grand final away from the MCG for the second straight year due to Melbourne‘s prolonged Covid-19 crisis, most likely in Perth.
That crisis has prohibited crowds from attending games at both the MCG and Marvel Stadium, a situation that won’t change before the finals begin next weekend after the AFL scrapped the pre-finals bye.
Melbourne‘s lockdown has been extended until at least September 2, and there is no chance of even limited crowds at Victorian venues for the first two weeks of the finals series.
Hinkley’s Port Adelaide could finish second with a win over the Western Bulldogs this week.
But even if they don’t he said crowds being allowed in at the Adelaide Oval, and Perth’s Optus Stadium, where 51,692 fans created a pulsating atmosphere for the Fremantle-West Coast derby last weekend, should win out when it comes to finals.
Optus Stadium was packed last weekend. Picture: Daniel Carson/AFL Photos via Getty ImagesSource:Getty Images
“We’ve said this last year and every other time we’ve been in the finals. We’re happy to be in the finals wherever they need to be,” Hinkley told AFL 360 on Monday night.
“For the good of the game, the crowd is important, particularly for the finals,
“If we have that opportunity we’d be foolish, somewhat selfish, if we didn’t go towards the crowds.”
Melbourne chief executive Gary Pert suggested last week the club would want to host a qualifying final at their MCG fortress even if spectators were barred from attending.
There would also be strict quarantine rules around AFL players travelling interstate for finals.
On Monday, WA Premier Mark McGowan even declared no families would be allowed to travel should Perth host the Grand Final.
“Our intention is that those sorts of groups wouldn’t be permitted to join players coming in. It’d be a very strict and tight regime,” he said.
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