WAFL Grand Final decision to come next month
Fixtures for the 2022 WAFL season have been released, but the location of the grand final is yet to be determined.
The WAFC reportedly wants to keep the season decider at a community venue after the success of Leederville Oval last year and Fremantle Oval in 2020, while the clubs prefer the bigger capacity of Optus Stadium.
WAFL and Talent executive manager Scott Baker said it was a difficult decision.
“I think in the next month we’ll have a decision, definitely before round one we’ll know where the WAFL Grand Final is going to be played, I think there’s a board meeting either later this month or early in March where we’ll make that decision,” Baker told Sports Breakfast.
“Obviously in 2021 it was a huge success out at Optus Stadium, we had a big crowd … and last year at Leederville, it was such a fantastic atmosphere, so it’s two really good products that we’ve got.
“The challenge with Leederville going forward will be, we were sort of lucky last year with East Perth and Subiaco not playing finals, we had to move them to different venues, whether you’d be able to do that again at Leederville would probably be a challenge potentially, and obviously we all know the challenges with the surface, so there’s a bit to work through.”
While the venue is still yet to be determined, the grand final will be played on the 24th of September, after clubs pushed back against the WAFC’s plan to extend the season to early October.
Baker said keeping the traditional Grand Final timeslot had some benefits.
“It’s probably worked out better in terms of being able to set the fixture, because the AFL Grand Final next year is the 30th of September, so it means WAFL Grand Final wouldn’t have been until the 7th of October, and it would’ve made real issues around potentially going back to Optus Stadium,” he said.
“With AFL having Gather Round, it would’ve meant our round one was something like round seven [of the AFL] or something like that.
“By bringing it forward those couple of weeks, back to the traditional [Saturday] of AFL prelim weekend, we can start on the Easter long weekend, which is really exciting. We didn’t want to miss that opportunity at the start of the year to get that momentum early for the WAFL.
The fixture features only one regional game with Claremont hosting East Fremantle in Broome on May 27th, but Baker said it was an ongoing area of focus.
“They probably don’t want to do more than one where you have to jump on a plane and go away, but [clubs] do like the regional games,” he said.
“Logistically, trying to do more than one game where you have to get on a plane and go away and organise accommodation and all those things can be quite challenging, but from a footy commission point of view, we love the regional games, we want to continue to push them.”
“We’re in discussions to take a game to potentially Karratha as well this year, we’re in the early stages of that but that’s a chance to happen.”
The season will kick off with three games Good Friday, a grand final rematch between West Perth and Claremont at Pentanet Stadium in Joondalup with East Perth against Swan Districts and Peel Thunder hosting East Fremantle, before South Fremantle play West Coast and Perth come up against Subiaco on Easter Saturday.