AFL narrows down start time for Perth grand final

The AFL has narrowed down a start time for this year’s grand final and will put on a twilight match in WA that will be viewed at night on the east coast.

Sources said league executives met with broadcasters on Monday afternoon where the bounce time was narrowed down to a 20-minute period between 7.00 and 7.20pm AEST – a twilight start in Perth.

Perth has been named host of the AFL grand final.Credit:Getty

After calls for a more family-friendly start time, the grand final will be moved to slightly earlier in the evening for east coast viewers than last year’s match at the Gabba, to ensure the match does not finish later than it did in 2020.

The 2020 grand final kicked off at 7.30pm AEDT, which was 6.30pm at the Gabba, where the game was played.

Free-to-air broadcast partner Seven has recently told the AFL that it didn’t want the game to finish any later than it did last year, which was just before 10.15pm AEDT.

And with quarter lengths reverting back from 16 minutes to 20 minutes plus time on this season, the time of the first bounce will be moved forward to compensate.

The AFL privately believes it is nothing short of a miracle that it is on the verge of completing the 2021 season in full, given the amount of maneuvering required due to the pandemic.

The league and the Victorian government held on to hope that the grand final could be played at the MCG for as long as possible, but Optus Stadium was always the first contingency plan, ahead of the Adelaide Oval.

Last week, AFL CEO Gillon McLachlan said: “West Australian footy fans are as passionate as any in the country and the stadium in Perth with a capacity crowd of 60,000 in attendance will be an amazing spectacle.

“This is the biggest single day of sport in Australia’s calendar and we’re going to do it properly. Perth’s going to do it properly and we’re going to lead in properly and that’s the opportunity by playing in Western Australia.”

The AFL also considered moving the grand final ahead of schedule to September 18 in order to take advantage of the season’s momentum and also mitigate the chance of disruption due to a potential outbreak.

But the week off between the preliminary finals and the final game will give the AFL a chance to build the occasion in Perth, with official functions scheduled during the week and the Brownlow Medal set to take place on the Sunday before the game.

In the worst-case scenario; where an outbreak in Perth forces a lockdown, the AFL is prepared to move the game interstate within a day’s notice.

The game could also be postponed by a week in the event that other states are also dealing with lockdowns, although that would be a nightmare for the broadcast deal.

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