WAFL champion’s return to competition plan
Dual Perth premiership player Chris Mitsopoulos has implored the WAFL to reignite football in the state by playing double headers at Optus Stadium with some spectators to be allowed in to the ground in an easing of current social gathering restrictions.
Mitsopoulos, who played 103 games for the Demons including the 1976 and 1977 premierships urged the competition to make the best of a tough economic climate.
“I think there’s a more compelling argument to reintroduce WAFL football than there is AFL football,” Mitsopoulos told Sports Drive on Friday.
“I think WA has done so well in managing the COVID-19 crisis so far that without the issues of interstate travel, there is certainly an argument we could introduce WAFL football this season.”
Mitsopoulos feels that crowds are possible at matches this season and believes it could be managed in the state’s current circumstances, suggesting a high-profile venue could be used to facilitate matches.
“Nothing is happening at Optus Stadium at the moment. My thinking has been why can’t we play double headers there? You could allow 10,000 people in, you can’t tell me you couldn’t physically distance those people at a stadium that big,” he said.
“Lathlain Park could be a second oval you could use for double headers. Allow physical distancing to be introduced to allow people to watch WAFL footy. I reckon you would get five to ten thousand people attending with this football starved community at the moment.”
Mitsopoulos, a member of 91.3 Sport FM’s WAFL commentary team for over a decade saw positives in the idea on and off the field.
“Optus Stadium is not generating any revenue at the moment; people are being laid off and there is an opportunity to create some jobs. There is an opportunity to create a bit of revenue, people can easily physically distance with a maximum crowd of 10,000,” he said.
“Being so starved of football or any sport at the moment, I think we would get people going to watch WAFL footy again.”
Mitsopoulos is also keen to keep Fremantle and West Coast players involved in the WAFL season, should it be possible.
“If the situation allows it, why not? If West Coast and Fremantle have to relocate to Victoria, how many players do West Coast take? Will they have enough players left to field a side? It’s similar for the Dockers,” he said.
“Until we know the answers to those questions, we can’t really say. It would be good if West Coast and Fremantle through their alignment with Peel can still field players in our WAFL competition. We know if we get those players playing and we can get people into a ground, people will come to watch those players play.”
More news on the WAFL season is expected next week following the AFL’s return to plan announcement on Monday.
IMAGE: WAFL website.