No AFL games in Melbourne for third week as two Victorian clashes moved to Tasmania

Rebecca Williams and Jon RalphHerald Sun
VideoMark Readings & Chris Robinson wrap up a big Round 13 that saw both WA teams win at home within the space of 30 hours.

Melbourne faces another bleak weekend without AFL games.

With crowds being locked out of the league’s Victorian matches this weekend, the AFL has confirmed two games will be shifted to Tasmania.

And Friday night’s blockbuster between Geelong and the Western Bulldogs will go ahead behind closed doors at GMHBA Stadium.

North Melbourne’s clash against the Brisbane Lions, scheduled for Saturday afternoon, has been relocated from Marvel Stadium to Blundstone Arena in Hobart due to a combination of border restrictions and the inability for members and supporters to attend.

And the clash between old rivals Hawthorn and Essendon on Sunday afternoon has been moved from the MCG to UTAS Stadium in Launceston.

Essendon will play Hawthorn in Tasmania.
Camera IconEssendon will play Hawthorn in Tasmania. Credit: Michael Willson/AFL Photos

The AFL said the decision to move the Hawks-Bombers game was made in consultation with each club to allow for members and fans in Launceston to attend the match.

The AFL, North, Hawthorn and Essendon have all agreed to “strict travel arrangements and other protocols “as set out by the Tasmanian Government and the teams will fly-in and fly-out for the matches on both Saturday and Sunday on charter planes.

The Lions don’t face the same protocols as they are flying into Tasmania from their base in Queensland.

Kangaroos chief executive Ben Amarfio said the club felt it had no choice but to relocate to Tasmania for this weekend’s match.

“COVID has taken a lot of decisions out of our hands and we have no choice but to try and capitalise on this latest fixture change and ensure the impact is minimal on our club,” Amarfio said.

“Our membership services team will look at making some additional benefits available, including merchandise vouchers and additional guest passes to our remaining home games.”

The Kangaroos will play another game at Blundstone after their draw with GWS on the weekend.
Camera IconThe Kangaroos will play another game at Blundstone after their draw with GWS on the weekend. Credit: Mark Metcalfe/AFL Photos/via AFL Photos

Hawthorn CEO Justin Reeves said the club would have preferred to face its traditional rival at the MCG, but moving the match to Tasmania was the best result for the club.

“While it is disappointing that we are unable to play our Round 14 match against Essendon at the ‘G as fixtured, the decision to relocate this match to Tasmania is the best result we could have hoped for given current COVID-19 restrictions in Victoria,” Reeves said.

“By taking the match to Tasmania we are able to bring an exciting match to our Tasmanian members and fans and play in front of a crowd.”

In a massive blow to Geelong’s hip pocket, the top-four clash between the Cats and the Bulldogs will be played at an empty GMHBA Stadium with no crowds permitted based on the current health advice from the Victorian Government.

The AFL said the decision to continue to play the match with no crowd at GMHBA Stadium had been made in consultation with the home team and the preference was “not to move the game”.

The Cats will play at GMHBA Stadium without a crowd.
Camera IconThe Cats will play at GMHBA Stadium without a crowd. Credit: Daniel Pockett/AFL Photos/via AFL Photos

The Cats said they decided against moving the match interstate given their Round 15 match was a Thursday night game in Brisbane.

AFL executive general manager of clubs and broadcasting Travis Auld said the league’s priority continued to be the health and safety of the community.

“While it is disappointing we are unable to host games in front of crowds in Victoria during Round 14, we hope the situation continues to trend favourably so we can welcome back members and supporters as soon as possible,” Auld said.

ROUND 14

Friday, June 18Geelong v Western Bulldogs, GMHBA Stadium - 5.50pm AWST

Saturday, June 19Gold Coast v Port Adelaide, Metricon Stadium - 11.45pm AWSTNorth Melbourne v Brisbane, Blundstone Arena - 2.35pm AWSTGreater Western Sydney v Carlton, Giants Stadium - 5.25pm AWST

Sunday, June 20Hawthorn v Essendon, UTAS Stadium - 1.20pm AWST

Byes

Adelaide, Collingwood, Fremantle, Melbourne, Richmond, St Kilda, Sydney, West Coast

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