The 2021 AFL Grand Final will be held in Perth as Melbourne spends its second year in a row grappling with COVID lockdown restrictions.
This year the game will be held at Optus Stadium for the first time ever, after it was held at The Gabba in Brisbane last year for similar reasons.
In return, the MCG’s contract will be extended another year until 2059 meaning that – COVID willing – Melbourne is set to be the exclusive host of the AFL Grand Final for the next couple of decades.
“To all Victorians, we will be back at the MCG bigger and better in 2022,” AFL CEO Gil McLachlan told reporters on Tuesday arvo.
“You have stuck by our game all year, and I know how hard it has been, especially how challenging it has been for the community of football.
“It has been a tricky season, not only for the AFL, but for all your leagues.”
Victorian Tourism Minister Martin Pakula added that it was simply to risky to go ahead with the original plans at the MCG, and that it “wouldn’t be right for the game [or] for the fans” to hold it in an empty stadium.
Fox Sports reports that this year’s match will likely start at around dusk, Perth time, meaning the first bounce will be at around 7:00 and 7:30pm, Melbourne time.
WA Premier Mark McGowan, who has become known for enforcing strict border restrictions at the drop of a hat, previously said Perth would be primed to host the match in the unfortunate event Melbourne was unable to.
“As a footy state, the scale of an AFL Grand Final is not lost on us,” he said on Twitter last week.
“If it comes here, we will do it justice.”
More to come.