AFL grand final: Mark McGowan says Optus Stadium will only host football showpiece if State remains COVID-safe
Mark McGowan believes a Perth grand final would be “historic” and a “wonderful event” but stressed he would not compromise the safety of the State to secure the AFL showpiece.
As revealed by The West Australian, the AFL approached the McGowan Government requesting it draw up “contingency plans” to host both a finals hub and potentially the grand final.
It came as Victoria was yesterday plunged into its sixth lockdown.
While insisting his preference was for Victoria to exit lockdown quickly and be in a position to host the AFL decider, now exactly 50 days away, Mr McGowan said WA was a football state and Optus Stadium had repeatedly proved it was up to hosting marquee fixtures.
“We have a great stadium, we have a great football public,” he said.
“It'd be a wonderful event, historic and we'd like to see it. But it can only happen if it's done in a safe way.”
Key to any decision on the grand final will be who the McGowan Government is willing to allow into WA for the event, which is usually attended by an army of officials, sponsors, the family and friends of players and coaching staff and dignitaries.
Mr McGowan said it was “too early” to discuss who might be granted an exemption and that “whatever we do would be very COVID safe and based upon medical advice”.
“So we wouldn't do anything to risk people here. I know other States sort of crawl over broken glass for it,” the Premier said.
“It'd be good. It'd be great fun and a great event but whatever we do, we will do in a safe way to make sure that we don't allow the importation of the virus into WA.”
- AFL asks WA Government for contingency plans to host grand final
- AFL boss Gillon McLachlan confirms talks with WA to host grand final at Optus
Both Crown and Joondalup Resorts have previously hosted interstate teams as part of an AFL bubble and Mr McGowan said that process had worked “relatively well”.
He said if conditions on the eastern states meant WA was the preferred location for the grand final it was unlikely many fans would be permitted in from the eastern states but that it would provide a great experience for locals.
Last year’s grand final was played at The Gabba after the Queensland Government handed the AFL millions of dollars in taxpayer cash and agreed to allow a vast travelling party into the Sunshine State – a move that sparked backlash when photographs emerged of senior AFL figures and the families of players lounging next to the pool at a Gold Coast resort.
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