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Optus Stadium confirmed as back up GF plan



The 2021 AFL Grand Final will be played at Perth's Optus Stadium if the MCG has to relinquish the game for the second straight season.


The first week of the finals series will be held in South Australia and Tasmania this weekend due to the growing coronavirus implications and government-forced lockdowns in both Victoria and New South Wales.


And with no end in sight and the league's decision makers remaining steadfast in fixturing finals matches in front of crowds, AFL chief executive Gillon McLachlan confirmed on Wednesday afternoon Perth's 60,000-capacity arena was the best option if the Victorian government has to concede the spectacle and cannot guarantee a sufficient MCG attendance.


An official decision is expected to come next week.


"Today I had a conversation with the West Australian premier (Mark) McGowan ... where we let them know that Optus Stadium would be the home of the AFL grand final in the event that it is not able to happen at the MCG," McLachlan said.


"Our priority clearly will be the health and safety of the West Australian community. We'll work through the quarantine facilities and restrictions for our playing groups.


"It will be an amazing venue in the event the MCG is unavailable."


While Adelaide Oval was another strong option, McLachlan said Optus Stadium was preferred due to Western Australia allowing full capacity venues.


"They've both got their merits but the capacity available at Optus Stadium is 100 per cent and that's pretty compelling, to have as many people as we can see the biggest and best sporting event in the country," he said.


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.


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 this season's decider is yet to be determined.


IMAGE: The Australian.