Essendon request creates more AFL chaos

Less than three weeks out from round one, the Bombers have reportedly lodged a formal request with the AFL to change their fixture.

The Essendon Bombers have reportedly asked for their blockbuster round one fixture against the Hawthorn Hawks to be moved from Marvel Stadium to the MCG.

Last week, the Victorian government confirmed Melbourne-based venues would be permitted to operate at 50 per cent capacity.

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Marvel Stadium would therefore be allowed to host almost 29,000 spectators, while the MCG could hold around 50,000.

The last five games played between Essendon and Hawthorn at the MCG have attracted crowds of 53,018, 68,857, 78,294, 59,866 and 62,500.

In the hope of having more tickets available to members, the Bombers reportedly lodged a formal request with the AFL to move its season-opener on Saturday, March 20th to the MCG.

Hawthorn chief executive Justin Reeves told The Age: “If it means more Hawthorn fans and members can get into the game, then we’d love to explore it.”

On Monday evening, footy reporter Sam McClure told SEN’s Sportsdaythat the AFL was considering the request.

“This is going to happen a bit, because clubs want to maximise their members (getting) to games. The last three games between the sides has attracted an average of 66,000 fans, but we know it’s a different world with COVID,” McClure said.

“This is more about the members, you want greater access.

“This isn’t a financial decision.”

An AFL game between the Melbourne Demons and Fremantle Dockers is scheduled at the MCG earlier that same day, but The Herald Sun reported that the MCC was open to the venue change.

However, the AFL has traditionally avoided scheduling multiple games at the same venue on the same day to assist with cleaning and catering demands.

The AFL may also be reluctant to move fixtures away from Marvel Stadium considering the league owns the venue.

Essendon great Matthew Lloyd said on SEN: “The only thing is Marvel Stadium and how much money they’ve lost in recent times – it’s also owned by the AFL.

“The Bombers have three interstate games in the first five rounds — you can understand why they’d want to move that game to have more fans watch them.”

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However, the AFL is currently more worried about the Western Australia’s strict border stance, according to The Age.

Last week, West Australian Premier Mark McGowan suggested his state would open up its border to Victorians if there were no new cases of community transmission COVID-19 between now and March 13th.

If Victoria registers a positive case before that date, the Dockers would be required to complete 14-day quarantine before entering Western Australia.

Essendon is scheduled to take on the Geelong Cats at GMHBA Stadium on Saturday evening for an AAMI Community Series clash.

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