AFL awards Grand Final to Perth
The 2021 AFL Grand Final will be played at Perth's Optus Stadium, after the MCG was forced to concede the spectacle for the second straight season.
The first week of finals series was held in South Australia and Tasmania last weekend due to the growing COVID-19 implications and government-forced lockdowns in both Victoria and New South Wales.
And with no end in sight, and the league's decision makers steadfast in fixturing finals in front of crowds, AFL chief executive Gillon McLachlan confirmed, alongside Victorian sports minister Martin Pakula, that Perth's 60,000-capacity arena was the best option to house the big dance on Saturday, September 25th.
"This is a decision made in the best interests of the health and safety of Victorians as we continue to drive down the current outbreak," Mr Pakula said.
"It's also in the best interests of football - if the grand final can be played in front of supporters, then it should be.
"We look forward to the grand final returning to its traditional home at the MCG in 2022 and for decades beyond."
Western Australia premier Mark McGowan declared his state would do the event "justice" when announced as the back-up option last week.
"As a footy state, the scale of an AFL Grand Final is not lost on us," he said. "We know that WA has some of the best facilities and the safest environment to host major events.
"Being able to safely host an event like the Grand Final is only possible because we are free of COVID, and have no local restrictions in place."
The Brownlow Medal will also be held in Perth on Sunday, September 19 to kick off Grand Final week celebrations.
History was made last season when Brisbane's Gabba hosted the Grand Final under lights in front of nearly 30,000 spectators.
The AFL signed an agreement in 2018 for the MCG to host the Grand Final until at least 2057, with that deal now to be extended to 2059.
Prior to 2020, the AFL's biggest day had been played away from the MCG only once in the previous 74 years, when Melbourne's Waverley Park hosted the 1991 game because of MCG construction works.
The exact timeslot of the Grand Final is yet to be determined.
IMAGE: Fox Sports.