As if the beleaguered Victorians haven’t been through enough! Now comes the ultimate kick in the teeth: For the first time in history, their beloved footy Grand Final will not be held in Melbourne this year.
Like so many aspects of Victorian life, it has been done for by the coronavirus.
Instead, the Vics will have to endure watching the footy season’s greatest game on TV, while the pineapple-munchers from Queenslanders see it live at the Gabba in Brisbane. Or, worse still, the upstart country folk from faraway WA may see it play out at the Optus Stadium in Perth.
Premier Andrews makes the dreaded announcement
Victoria’s Premier, Daniel Andrews, on Monday killed off any lingering hopes that the AFL showpiece for 2020 would somehow still be played at its spiritual home at the MCG despite the virus-inspired shutdown of Melbourne.
The Grand Final is, after all, a city institution and has been played in Melbourne since 1898 when the competition was known as the VFL.
The MCG has been the chosen venue every year except one – 1991 – when the stadium was getting an upgrade. Even then it didn’t move out of the city and instead took place at Waverley Park in the in the outer-eastern suburbs.
Melbourne ‘doesn’t make any sense’, says Andrews
“It is just a matter of dealing with the facts,” the Premier said when he made his expected announcement.
“And for the sake of one event – as important, as religious almost, as it is – the notion that you would take a holiday from the coronavirus for the day so we could have the Grand Final for a day and a dose of normal … that doesn’t make any sense.”
“That would only spread the virus. It hurts, but not as much as potentially spreading the virus more. That notion is not on the table,” Andrews said.
AFL is still to confirm interstate venue for game
The interstate venue for the Grand Final is expected to be confirmed later this week by the AFL. It is expected to be either Brisbane’s Gabba or Perth’s Optus Stadium.
Brisbane has been seen as the frontrunner, but a COVID-19 outbreak at a youth detention centre in the city over the weekend may make Perth a safer bet for the league’s governing body.