PLANNING FOR FULL HOUSES NEXT YEAR
AFL chief executive Gillon McLachlan is confident full crowds will return to Victoria at some point next season, but recognises high coronavirus vaccination rates will be crucial for that to happen.
On Tuesday, this year’s grand final was officially moved to Perth’s Optus Stadium after the Victorian Government conceded a crowd at the MCG would be impossible amid the state’s coronavirus outbreak.
Australia’s reopening plans are dependent on 70, then 80 per cent of eligible people being vaccinated.
The AFL is yet to launch a largescale vaccination campaign, like the NRL’s from earlier this month, but McLachlan said it was communicating with players and staff and would ‘‘aggressively’’ encourage fans to get vaccinated.
Some players, including Richmond’s Tom Lynch and Hawthorn’s Chad Wingard, have posted on social media about having their first shot.
‘‘At the moment we’re going through a process where we are having a very comprehensive communication plan with all of our players — male and female — (and) our staff and we’re doing it in specific cohorts,’’ McLachlan said.
‘‘When that’s finished and obviously we’ve got to have supply and get a rollout, for those who want to, I think you can feel comfortable that we’ll be aggressively pushing and advocating for everyone to get vaccinated.
‘‘Because if you want to get back to here (Marvel Stadium with) full houses, if you want to save your local coffee shop or your local butcher or all these small businesses that are suffering, there is only one way out.
‘‘This is really clear — there’s only one way out because it’s mandated by every state government and the Federal Government now, that’s the only way. The way out is vaccination, so that’s what we’ve got to do.’’
He said Victorians were ‘‘getting vaccinated and we’ve got a plan out of here’’ (the current situation), and towards attending football again.
‘‘We’ll get back there (to full crowds),’’ he said.
‘‘I’d say to all Victorians frankly, not just football supporters, I’ve been living here, we know how hard it’s been and how much we miss going to Marvel and the MCG and frankly how much we miss community football.
‘‘. . . Our way of life across this country, particularly this town, is going to the football — men’s football, women’s football, junior sport — and we’ll get back there.
‘‘That’ll be next year. In what form, whether it’s 100 per cent straight away I don’t know, but we’ll get back and celebrate how we live and what’s great — and a lot of that’s going to the footy.’’