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  • Writer's pictureSportFM

Clubs, league to go head to head over WAFL grand final

EXCLUSIVE


John Townsend


WAFL clubs and the WA Football Commission are set for a dispute over next season’s grand final venue and timing that could last all summer.


The majority of clubs want the grand final to return to Optus Stadium and revert to the traditional time slot the weekend before the AFL decider.


But buoyed by the success of this year’s October grand final at Leederville Oval, which saw West Perth beat Claremont in a nail-biter in front of nearly 16,791 fans, the WAFC wants to keep the match at a community ground.


And the league wants to replicate the success of the past two seasons by playing the grand final a week after the AFL version.


“The thinking is that it gets clear air, better publicity and attracts more interest as a standalone match,” a club official told SportFM.

“But a majority of clubs want to go back to Optus, where they are almost certain to get a bigger crowd than at Leederville, and want to play the grand final before the AFL.”


Three WAFL grand finals have been played at Optus, with average crowds above 24,000.

The last five grand finals at Subiaco Oval drew an average of 15,660 – smaller than the 2022 decider – while crowds averaged 18,293 in the last 10 matches at Subiaco.


The 2023 season is likely to start at Easter – the second weekend in April – with the fixture likely to include 18 rounds, two general byes, a State match against South Australia probably in Adelaide, and a four-week finals series.


Complicating the fixture is the AFL’s plans to expand to a 23-match season with a carnival round – probably in Adelaide – being added to the home-and-away schedule.


The AFL grand final is due to be played on September 30 – meaning the tentative WAFL fixture would have to stretch or shrink by a week to play the grand final either a week later or week before the AFL.


IMAGE: FILE

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