For the first time in VFL/AFL history, the Grand Final could be moved interstate.
Circumstances in Victoria are improving, but are still far from suitable for hosting the premier event on the Australian sporting calendar.
This means that the AFL will be looking to handball the responsibility over to another state, with multiple candidates throwing their hat in the ring.
Here are the available options on the table and our thoughts on the likeliness of them.
Facility-wise, this would be the best choice that Gillon McLachlan and co. could make.
Perth boasts their state-of-the-art Optus Stadium, and with a capacity of 65,000, the AFL would be able to attract a substantial crowd.
Western Australia has also escaped the worst of the pandemic, with practically little to no cases of community transmission of COVID-19 since June.
The Western Derby back in July garnered a 30,000 strong crowd, with the WA Government trying to get as many fans back to the football as they can. This has since been scaled back due to fears an outbreak at a match could be catastrophic.
However, on Tuesday the WA Government announced that they would move to Phase 5 restrictions on October 24th and, if the Grand Final were to be scheduled on that day, it is a possibility that there could be close to a 60,000 spectators in the house.
It would also make financial sense for the AFL, with a high-capacity crowd possibly generating $27 million for the league if it were to be hosted in Perth.
— Josh Garlepp (@JoshGarlepp) August 15, 2020
The Premier voiced his discontent with both the AFL and the Swans to reporters on Sunday.
“The AFL gave us every assurance this wouldn’t happen. The Swans have let us down, the AFL has let us down. We’re disappointed in both organisations.”
“I received an apology from the AFL this morning. I appreciate that but…they promised us this wouldn’t happen and they let us down.”
Should the AFL want to recoup some of their lost revenue through a semi-normal Grand Final, then it would be in their best interest to keep the WA Government onside.
A large obstacle that the state will have to navigate is quarantine restrictions, with travelers from all other states unable to enter for non-essential reasons.
If these restrictions are eased through a decrease in numbers in the south-east, then it could see thousands flock to Perth for the event.
Likeliness to happen: 7/10
If the AFL were going to pay back the state who essentially saved the season, then Queensland would be their choice for the Big Dance.
In traditionally rugby-dominated territory, a Queensland Grand Final would promote AFL football to a domain that the league has tried to expand into in the past, with the moving of Fitzroy to Brisbane and the establishment of a Gold Coast side.
The West Australian newspaper voiced their thoughts over a Grand Final in a non-footy-dominated state on Sunday.
Western Australia appears upset with the idea of the @AFL Grand Final being played in a so-called NRL state… 😂
— Annastacia Palaszczuk (@AnnastaciaMP) July 16, 2020
Speaking to Seven News reporters on Monday, Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk called on Victorians to support Queenslanders in their bid to have the game played up north.
“I’d hope that people living in Victoria would also support Queensland.”
“Lets face it, (the grand final) has never left Victoria but Queensland does stand ready, willing and able to host.”
The Queensland government has, according to Caroline Wilson’s piece in The Age on Wednesday, assembled a ‘grand final working party’ in order to bring the game to the state.
Premier Palaszczuk has recruited senior figures from both Queensland clubs, with Suns president Tony Cochrane and Brisbane chairman Andrew Wellington to head the party.
It will be tough, however, as the committee must convince Gillon McLachlan and his chairman Richard Goyder – who hails from Perth – that a Queensland Grand Final would be more beneficial than it’s competitors in both growth of the game and immediate financial reward.
By October 17th, it is hoped by the working party that the Gabba in Brisbane could have up to 30,000 spectators. If the AFL chooses to schedule the game on this day due to not having a pre-finals bye week, then it may just tilt the odds in Queensland’s favour.
After having no community transmission for more than a month, the Queensland government has ordered quarantine for all travellers coming from COVID-19 hotspots – Victoria, NSW and the ACT.
This would make life difficult for fans coming from south-east of the country, but would most likely mean more Queenslanders and interstate fans would get to experience the game for themselves.
Likeliness to happen: 8/10
In a state that rarely hosts major sporting event, having the 2020 Grand Final would be monumental for South Australia.
Adelaide has played host to multiple games this season with the largest crowd at the 53,500-capacity Adelaide Oval numbering in excess of 18,000.
However, this was slashed after the state recorded two new coronavirus cases, forcing the South Australian Government to put the limit at 10,000 patrons.
This crowd-capping could be a deal-breaker for the AFL, but a lot can change in two months.
If South Australia continues with practically no community transmission of the virus, there is a chance that Adelaide Oval could be rocking with up to 50,000 fans come October.
The opportunity for the game to move interstate is a once in a lifetime event and, if South Australia misses out, they would be understandably upset.
Kane is not happy that South Australia is letting WA push for the Grand Final 🌋 pic.twitter.com/kjoIgj6s2L
— SEN 1116 (@1116sen) August 7, 2020
In a season in which Port Adelaide, after many false dawns and years of heartache, look like genuine contenders, it would be a prime opportunity for the Power fans to make Adelaide Oval their own if they do make the last game of the season.
On Wednesday, Premier Steven Marshall revealed that the state government was working on a presentation that they would take to the AFL in the next week or two.
“We’ve put together a task force now to put our best foot forward in regards to bringing finals and or the grand final to Adelaide Oval,” he said to reporters.
“Adelaide Oval is unequivocally the expert oval in terms of handling the coronavirus. We’ve seen this from day one — they’ve been able to work with SA Health to bring large crowds in and out of the facility.
“I think we’ve put ourselves in the very best position to host the grand final or let’s hope we can get a number of finals.”
The border situation for South Australia is the same as Queensland’s. Victorians are banned from non-essential travel to the state, and travellers from NSW and the ACT must quarantine for 14 days.
However, if the fact that the South Australian Government threw the AFL’s plans into jeopardy back in May for a restart is considered, the league look unfavourably upon the South Australian bid.
Likeliness to happen: 6/10
New South Wales
Besides Victoria, New South Wales is the next in line for the least unlikely home of the 2020 Grand Final.
Despite this, Deputy Premier John Barilaro is still adamant that Sydney still is the ideal place for the game.
— John Barilaro MP (@JohnBarilaroMP) August 13, 2020
“We are still in the running…I think they are cautious about NSW but I would argue keeping it on the eastern seaboard is still their best bet and their safest bet is to stay on the eastern seaboard” he said to the Sydney Morning Herald last week.
However, there are still fears that a second wave could occur, with low-level community transmission still simmering away.
Today the NRL submitted a request to the NSW Government for their Grand Final, which is scheduled for October 25th, to have 50,000 fans in attendance at ANZ Stadium.
Although the game is still two months away, that demand seems incredibly far-fetched for a state that is on the brink.
If the NSW Government approved the request, then that means there is no reason that a crowd of similar size couldn’t attend an AFL Grand Final in the Harbour City too.
With other states putting more restrictions on their borders with NSW by the day, it seems as if their hopes of hosting the game are fading fast.
Likeliness to happen: 4/10