It’s time to rip the Band-Aid off. It’s going to hurt, a lot. The inevitable decision to move the AFL grand final from the MCG to another state is expected to be announced soon. For Victorians who relinquished any chance of seeing live football this season when the second surge of COVID-19 cases struck, grand final week is going to be much diminished, despite assurances the public holiday will stay.
It won’t be the first time the premiership cup has not been raised at the MCG. Having first been played at the ground in 1902, the grand final had to be relocated during World War II while the MCG was used for military purposes, and in 1991, when the game was played at the now defunct VFL Park in Mulgrave while the MCG was upgraded. But leaving the state is another matter.
Already, there has been no shortage of jockeying from other states trying to host this year’s final contest. While it is considered a formality, the MCG and Premier Daniel Andrews will first have to give the move the thumbs up. The grand final is contracted to the MCG until 2057 in a deal that included the Victorian government after it agreed to kick in substantial funding to upgrade Marvel Stadium.
But Mr Andrews was not offering up much hope when asked how Victoria might look in October, when the final will be played: “Trying to predict [virus] numbers a day in advance, let alone what’s happening mid-to-late October, is very, very challenging,” he said.