AFL chief executive Gillon McLachlan says the league will continue to review the timing of the AFL grand final and has not ruled out it being under lights once it returns to the MCG.
Saturday night’s play-off between Melbourne and the Western Bulldogs in Perth – which began at 7.15pm on the east coast – had 3.9 million viewers, out-rating this year’s Olympic Games opening ceremony, making it the most watched television program so far in 2021.
The showpiece event out-rated last year’s prime-time clash in Brisbane between Geelong and Richmond by two per cent, and was a whopping 33 per cent higher than the 2019 afternoon decider between Richmond and Greater Western Sydney.
McLachlan said Saturday’s clash before 61,000 fans at Optus Stadium was “spectacular”, and says the traditional grand final afternoon timeslot at the MCG – if, as expected, the event returns to Melbourne next year free of pandemic restrictions – is not locked in.
“It will be reviewed and go back to the commission. Clearly, we played night in Brisbane, reviewed and went back to the day at the MCG,” McLachlan told 3AW on Monday.
Had this year’s grand final gone ahead in Melbourne, it would have been in the afternoon.
“I don’t think anything should be taken for granted. We’ll have a look at it. I know how many people want it during the day at the MCG and I think you play it on its merits, given the venue, the state and the circumstance,” McLachlan said.
“I like where it was for this [Perth] stadium; MCG is different. We will process it and have a look.”
Another option for the AFL is to consider a twilight starting time in Melbourne.