AFL CEO Gillon McLachlan has confirmed Brisbane will host this year’s Grand Final.
Reports in the lead-up to today’s announcement suggested The Gabba would win the race to hold the biggest game of 2020 and McLachlan made it official.
With COVID-19 affecting Victoria more than any other state, the Big Dance needed to be taken away from Melbourne for the first time in history.
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McLachlan also revealed during his press conference Adelaide Oval would be the back-up venue should unexpected circumstances rule out Brisbane.
It’s hoped a crowd of 30,000 will be able to attend the match, which will be played at night for the first time.
The decision was music to the ears of Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk, who in recent times has been talking tough about why the Sunshine State deserved to be picked to host the Grand Final on Saturday October 24.
Speaking after McLachlan’s announcement, Palaszczuk thanked the AFL for showing faith in Queensland.
“There are huge opportunities for legacy of the game and growing football … especially in regional areas,” she said.
“We will make sure that it is inclusive of Australia, we will make sure that it is inclusive of Victoria.
“A great win for Queensland, I’m very honoured the AFL has chosen Queensland.
“It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity and we’re not going to let anyone down.”
Palaszczuk’s wish was granted after Queensland opened its doors to the league this year, setting teams up in quarantine hubs to allow the season to continue.
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The AFL’s decision was a blow to Western Australia, NSW and South Australia — who all threw their hats in the ring to host the decider.
WA Premier Mark McGowan had been bullish about why footy biggest occasion should travel to Perth but his calls went unanswered.
“If they want to go to the healthiest, safest place and they want to comply with the quarantine requirements, then Perth is the obvious solution,” McGowan said recently.
McLachlan said it was a “difficult” decision to choose Brisbane because all the states’ presentations were so impressive, but given all the work Queensland has done to facilitate the continuation of the season, it was just reward for the state.
The CEO said Perth has a “fantastic venue” but missed out because the state government is committed to a “hard border” with regards to protecting against the spread of COVID-19.
McLachlan elaborated on his discussions with McGowan, saying: “He understood. He asked questions about why and we worked through that.
“He’s unapologetic about his tough approach (to quarantine) and it’s served West Australians well and I was really clear that was a key issue.
“He might not have agreed but he understood.”
AFL Fixture boss Travis Auld backed up McLachlan in saying the work Queensland has done to keep the season alive was a major reason Brisbane was given hosting rights.
Auld also said he was hopeful multiple states would be able to host finals matches.
Originally published as AFL confirms huge Grand Final call