The comedy of errors that is the AFL executive continues in earnest. Not satisfied with bungling the drugs issue, having a website described by many as the worst on the internet, and infuriating 95% of supporters with untested rule changes, the AFL is refusing to entertain the prospect of transferring the twilight round 13, Hawthorn v Collingwood match, slated for Telstra Dome.

This comes after Hawthorn and lowly Carlton amassed a ground record crowd of 53,000 last Friday night at Telstra Dome. Many predict that if the Hawthorn v Collingwood clash were transferred to the MCG, a crowd of around 80,000 would attend (possibly more, given both teams are in excellent form and boast a combined membership tally of about 70,000).

The AFL is refusing to switch the match, maintaining that the Kangaroos v Western Bulldogs match (which drew only 28,000 fans last year) will be played at the MCG. Even more amazing is the fact that both Hawthorn and Collingwood allegedly play their “home” matches at the MCG, while the Kangaroos and Bulldogs supposedly play “home” games at Telstra Dome.

Not only is the decision by the AFL not to switch the matches bemusing, it is also dishonest. When the controversial 53,000-capacity Docklands Stadium was being mooted, many criticised the low capacity, especially since the stadium was a virtual replacement of the 75,000-capacity Waverley Park. To overcome such issues, the AFL undertook to transfer any match expected to draw a crowd in excess of 53,000 to the MCG (this was known as the “best-fit” policy).

Since announcing that policy, the AFL has transferred precisely zero games from Docklands to the MCG. There is no better test for the best-fit policy than the Hawthorn v Collingwood match with the match being played at Telstra Stadium resulting in as many as 35,000 supporters not being able to attend.

When questioned as to why the logical response has not occurred, AFL commercial boss Gillon McLachlan mumbled something that in the event of bad weather, only 30,000 fans might attend a Hawthorn v Collingwood match at the MCG.

Clearly, the obvious solution would be for the AFL to arrange for Collingwood and Hawthorn to play at the MCG on Sunday afternoon, while the Kangaroos and Bulldogs would play at Telstra Dome on Sunday evening. Perhaps the real reason the AFL is stubbornly refusing to switch the matches is for fear of annoying Foxtel (which broadcasts the twilight match) or the AFL-owned Telstra Dome.

There will literally be thousands of Hawthorn and Collingwood supporters unable to attend the match or watch it on television (as the game in not being broadcast on free-to-air TV). Once again, the AFL executive has totally disregarded real football supporters in favour of corporate “partners”.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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