AFL grand final to remain in afternoon


The first AFL grand final in Melbourne in three years will remain in the traditional afternoon timeslot, with fan sentiment again winning out over the commercial push for a twilight start.

The 2022 decider, to be held at the MCG on September 24, will begin at 2.30pm, as per tradition.

The league had been weighing up the benefits of a twilight fixture, starting at 4.30pm.

AFL chief executive Gillon McLachlan had ruled out a night grand final, although he was regarded as a supporter of the twilight slot.

Significantly increased television ratings over the last two years, especially in last year’s decider in Perth, was another issue taken into account when considering a time shift.

But fan sentiment had clearly favoured keeping the grand final in its traditional afternoon time-slot.

“Prior to the start of this season, we emphasised that after two really challenging years, we all yearned to return to the footy rituals and routines that set the rhythms of our lives, to continue to focus on getting back to football and going to football as we know it,” McLachlan said in a statement.

“That return-to-rituals principle underpinned our decision making in ratifying a traditional start time – the prestige, nostalgia and atmosphere of the day grand final is something we all know and love.”

A decision was made at Wednesday’s AFL Commission meeting but the call had been a tightly-held secret this week.

Officials did not want to overshadow the announcement of the new AFLW pay deal, details of which were confirmed by the league on Thursday.

The premiership decider will return to the MCG this year after being played in Perth last season and Brisbane the year prior because of COVID-19 impacts.

The 2020 finale at the Gabba started at 6.30pm local time and last year’s Optus Stadium playoff began at 5.15pm local time (7.15 pm AEST).


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