Toyota celebrates Demons’ Max Gown during the 2021 Toyota AFL Grand Final match between the Melbourne Demons and the Western Bulldogs at the Optus Stadium in Perth, Australia on September 25, 2021. (Michael Wilson / AFL photo via Getty Images)
Veteran journalist Caroline Wilson blasted outgoing CEO Jillian McClachlan and the AFL for managing their grand finale schedule, calling the company’s annual changes “outrageous.”
The AFL Commission confirmed last week that this season’s grand final will return at its usual start time at 2.30pm.
It follows a one-night grand finale in Gabba in 2020 and a twilight start in Perth last year, as both seasons were interrupted by COVID-19.
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Talking about Nine Footy is categorizedWilson said the AFL should stop playing with the premiership referee by arguing about the start time each year.
“The AFL must stop considering the Grand Final as its own individual sport. No other major or Australian sporting event in the world has such an annual equestrian fashion debate.”
“Every year Gillion McLachlan and the commission indicate that the big day is about to begin in a new timeslot, which is an insult to clubs, and worse, to football fans.
“Unlike the last two coveted years, there was no excuse this season and, worse, it took until the second half of May to call the commission.
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“This is a minimally interesting feature of Gillian McLachlan’s leadership. Let’s hope the next CEO takes a long look and stops playing the biggest occasion of the game like a political football.”
The expectation was that this year’s final, which will be played at the MCG on Saturday 24 September, would be scheduled as a twilight match.
“Every year, Gillion McLachlan says, ‘This is inevitable, the Twilight Grand Final is inevitable.’
Known as a footy traditionist who previously advocated a return to the kickoff at 2.30pm, Wilson said he did not offend for a replacement at the start but felt the decision should be consistent for at least a few seasons.
“Just take a long look, say when you play it and play it,” he said.
“If you’re going to change it, change it for five years – don’t argue about it every year.
“It makes the grand finale cheaper.”
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