More Victorian AFL clubs will relocate to Queensland for the next 10 weeks and the AFL grand final may be moved north, as Victoria’s COVID situation further deteriorates and the number of Sydney cases continues to grow.
With Melbourne’s lockdown to last another five long weeks, all 10 Victorian teams had already relocated interstate, to NSW, QLD and Western Australia. Now, all teams will be based in QLD.
The decision effectively transports VIC-based teams from their temporary Sydney base to QLD instead. The AFL has not given any word on whether the Sydney-based Swans and Giants may also need to relocate interstate.
The AFL’s CEO, Gillon McLachlan, said the plan was to relocate the teams for 10 weeks – the remainder of the home and away season – but that they may be able to return to their home bases earlier, depending on the COVID situation in Victoria.
Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has also launched an audacious bid to wrestle the AFL grand final from Victoria and fend off a similar proposal from NSW, saying the league’s biggest day should be held in Brisbane.
Ms Palaszczuk said on Wednesday she had spoken to McLachlan, who wanted to send “hundreds of players and officials” north for two months, to ensure the competition could continue.
“The AFL has approached Queensland to host more of its teams and players in our state,” she said in a Facebook post.
“I stress none of these measures can happen without strict quarantine protocols and the COVID management plan that has allowed the AFL season to proceed.”
“This is another way Queensland is helping Victoria.”
All 10 of Victoria’s teams have already moved out of the state, and are spread across NSW, Western Australia and Queensland.
Ms Palaszczuk had previously said the situation, with her state hosting six teams, essentially made Queensland “the home of the AFL”.
“They should give us the grand final after this,” he said.
On Wednesday, she said she had made that point directly to Mr McLachlan.
“As I told Gil, if the season is based here – then the grand final should be played here too,” the Premier said.
“If Queensland is hosting the AFL season, I have told the AFL that we should potentially host the grand final, too.”
However, Mr McLachlan said no decision had been made on the grand final yet, saying it was currently scheduled for the Melbourne Cricket Ground until further notice.
The AFL has approached Queensland to host more of its teams and players in our state.A short time ago I spoke to AFL…
The AFL grand final is the subject of an interstate tug-of-war, with NSW and WA also making their cases to host the fixture.
Ms Palaszczuk’s latest bid comes just days after NSW deputy premier John Barilaro had called for the match to be played in Sydney, as part of a proposal to relocate many of Victoria’s most treasured cultural and sporting events – including the Melbourne Cup and the Melbourne International Comedy Festival – to NSW.
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The AFL has not yet publicly confirmed which further teams, if any, would move to the Sunshine State. The league has not announced any fixtures beyond next week’s round eight of the competition.
“As everyone knows, AFL is more than a sport to Victorians. We know how they feel. Given the choice between not having a season and having it based in Queensland, I think I know what the fans would like to happen,” Ms Palaszczuk said.
Negotiations between the NRL and the Queensland chief health officer “are continuing”, she said.