Published by Sarah Olle, 27 August 2018 on foxsports.com.au
THE AFL has defended its fixture, saying the pros outweigh the cons when it comes to the complexion of the first week of finals.
Richmond and Hawthorn fans were outraged after the AFL scheduled the clubs’ first ever final against each other on a Thursday night.
At the top of their concerns were that children, as well as rural supporters, would be disinclined from attending.
But the AFL’s fixture manager Travis Auld has hit back, saying Victorian clubs need to accept the competition extends across their borders.
“They go to school in Western Australia and South Australia,” Auld told SEN’s Whateley.
“Families and kids getting to the game from outside of CBD or having school the next day, that issue applies anywhere where we play.
“Our expectations are we will get 90,000 plus, we are confident with those teams and the strength of those teams that there will be a really strong crowd.”
Auld’s commentary was in line with punters outside of Victoria, many of whom criticised the response of Hawthorn and Richmond supporters, who were outraged by the Thursday night timeslot.
Adelaide hosted last year’s first final, while West Coast played the Western Bulldogs on a Thursday night in 2016.
And for fairness among the final eight, Auld was adamant the AFL had produced the best outcome possible, even if that meant abandoning Sunday altogether.
“It’s the week off between the home and away and the first week of the finals that’s given us an opportunity to launch finals with a Thursday night, which then has taken a game out of the Sunday,” he said.
“It also makes it easier in terms of day breaks.
“If you look at week two of the finals, we will have an eight day break and a seven day break and two seven day breaks.
“That’s really important to the clubs that are competing.”