With the venue for the 2017 AFLW Grand Final finally announced, the AFL is receiving heavy criticism for the entire fiasco.
The reproach comes, perhaps undeservedly, as the AFL has endeavoured to remain steadfast with a standalone Grand Final with the Gabba as the favoured venue.
The AFL Commission should have confirmed the ground some time ago and their lack of reasonable and good scheduling has resulted in a free weekend wasted.
Now the AFL is met with competition in prime time viewing for the first week of the AFL men’s season and the Formula One Grand Prix in Melbourne.
However, the eventual decision was not ideal for anybody involved in the game, especially the AFL.
The Queensland Government scheduled Adele concerts at the Gabba two weeks ago which resulted in the unsafe assessment of the ground.
Furthermore, Queensland Cricket actually requested that the AFLW Grand Final be played elsewhere as they were worried about the field’s condition.
Representitives stated that the turf needed to be re-laid on four of seven wicket blocks after the Adele Concert. This would need at least a six-week growing period to ensure it’s ready.
With the AFLW competition in it’s first year, those at the AFL have dealt with uprising challenges and tried their absolute best to ensure the Gabba for the Grand Final, but unfortunately it has simply fallen through.
Board members of the AFL pitched a change in venue across state to Adelaide, but Gillon McLachlan remained firm.
“The Brisbane Lions have earned the right to host the inaugural NAB AFLW Grand Final in their home state and it is extremely disappointing that the first-ever Women’s Grand Final cannot be at the home of the AFL football in Brisbane,” McLachlan said.
Despite weeks of discussions, McLachlan has said the AFL is extremely disappointed that Stadiums Queensland have been unable to make the Gabba available for the initial NAB Grand Final.
“The AFL is profoundly disappointed the Gabba surface is not able to be presented for the AFLW showpiece match but we hope that as many Lions’ fans as possible, and travelling fans of the Adelaide Crows, can support the match at Metricon Stadium,” McLachlan said.
“Attendance for the Grand Final will be free, and we will also be seeking the support of the Government to maximise transport options to get fans to the game.”
Make no mistake about it, McLachlan is furious.
During a press conference held late Monday afternoon, he said it was a matter of “competence or prioritisation”, reminding everyone that the Gabba had three weeks to sort the ground out and did not.
The AFL is certainly not blameless, but you cannot blame the easy target entirely.
The poor scheduling and underestimation of the popularity of the competition is something the AFL can assuredly learn from after the first season.
Adelaide coach Bec Goddard said without a venue, the team was unable to plan its preparations but was more excited about the fanfare of a Grand Final.
“Quite seriously, you could play us on the nature strip out on Punt Road and we’d be OK with it,” Goddard said, a nice reminder of what’s important.
“That’s how excited we are to be part of something so professional.”
The Grand Final Venue fiasco is far from ideal but Goddard’s words implore that we cherish the important facets.
Let’s not undervalue the perseverance of every single woman in this competition because of a fiasco that is out of their control.
These women are finally able to do what they love, and that’s pretty special.