The AFL and state government have confirmed Optus Stadium will host the 2021 grand final following weeks of public and industry speculation the big game would move west to Perth.
AFL chief executive Gillon McLachlan made the long-anticipated announcement on Tuesday, thanking football fans across Australia for their patience and support.
“Today’s announcement is not what any football-loving Victorian wanted to hear but the health and safety of the wider community has been a priority throughout this season and must continue to be the priority as we all navigate through this pandemic,” McLachlan said.
“We will be back at the MCG, bigger and better in 2022.
“I do want to acknowledge our supporters who have stuck by the game and stuck by their clubs in record numbers throughout the uncertainty this year.
“The connection they have with their clubs is unmatched in world sport.”
The announcement comes with Victoria’s current outbreak unlikely to abate in time for the MCG to host a significant or indeed any crowd for the big game.
The grand final will take place on September 25, with the AFL yet to announce timings for the first bounce.
McLachlan thanked both the Victorian and Western Australian governments for their support.
“Season 2021 has proved to be really challenging on many fronts, and we wouldn’t have reached this point without the support of all state and territory governments across the year,” he said.
“The announcement today gives us the clarity and time needed to deliver the competing clubs and fans the best grand final experience possible, whether that is in stadium for those in WA [or] for millions of fans around the country, and indeed the world [watching the broadcast].”
“Western Australian footy fans are as passionate as any in the country and the stadium in Perth, with a capacity crowd of 60,000 in attendance, will be a great spectacle, not only for the city of Perth but for all footy fans around the world.”
All players, officials and staff would continue to adhere to Western Australian Government protocols while in the state, McLachlan said.
An AFL operations team operate out of Perth, after completing quarantine, and will work with the WA Government on the upcoming plans, with further details to be released in coming weeks.
The AFL has reached an agreement with the Victorian Government and Melbourne Cricket Club on amendments to this year’s contract taking into consideration the circumstances.