Team locked out of home in ‘baffling’ controversy

As debate continues around Richmond’s decision to keep its AFLW semi final at Punt Road, there is concern that Brisbane will be locked out of its own state on grand final day – even if it wins the right to host it.

Brisbane booked a home preliminary final next week by defeating Richmond 39-22 in the first qualifying final on Saturday.

However, should the Lions win through to the grand final and earn the hosting rights for the decider, the grand final cannot be played at Metricon Stadium because of a clash with the Festival X Gold Coast event.

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Endeavoring to honor a Brisbane grand final should the Lions win, the AFL reached out to The Gabba, but its request to use the venue was reportedly knocked back after cricket bosses pushed against it.

Under the stadium’s current agreement, the Gabba’s surface is being prepared for upcoming Sheffield Shield matches and the first Test against South Africa starting on December 17.

The only other state-based alternative is the field at Bond University. The Suns hosted a game there last season, but the venue can only hold 3000 spectators – seating just 2000 of them.

The league has already copped intense criticism for allowing Richmond to keep Punt Road as their semi-final venue despite the ground being limited to just 2500 fans and ticket demand exploding on Monday.

Victoria Park (10,000 capacity), Ikon Park (22,00) and Marvel Stadium (53,000) were all confirmed as available on Saturday but Richmond’s preference for a home-ground advantage prevailed over moving the match to a bigger venue.

“Sometimes you just shake your head,” AFL legend Gerard Healy said on SEN.

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“The AFLW competition doesn’t generate too many controversies. But given the longstanding battle the AFL have had with Geelong over the scheduling of finals over the years away from the Cattery to the MCG because of bigger crowd numbers, the Punt Road decision was always going to be one – a controversy.

“(Richmond CEO) Brendon Gale said last night that he was entitled to fight hard for his club and give them the best home-ground advantage to enable them the best chance to win.

“What happened to the logic applied to Geelong about maximizing crowds? There is none. How does it apply to Geelong for a decade and a half, and all of a sudden doesn’t apply to the Tigers?

“It’s baffling, bewildering and I guess disappointing for those who would like to go and now can’t get in.

“It’s just bizarre no explanation has been produced (by the AFL) to explain the apparent backflip on a hardline policy.

“There’s been no explanation given and no one available to give an explanation.”

Last weekend, more than 4300 fans turned out for the first elimination final at GMHBA Stadium, while more than 4800 attended the second elimination final at Victoria Park.

Compounding the situation, the Matildas are hosting a friendly against Sweden at the same time at nearby AAMI Park. With fans excluded from the AFLW, tens of thousands of footy followers are expected to make the switch.

Week two finals match-ups

Saturday, November 12

First semi-final: Richmond Tigers vs North Melbourne Kangaroos, 1:40pm AEDT at Swinburne Center Punt Road

Second semi-final: Adelaide Crows vs Collingwood Magpies, 3:40pm AEDT at Unley Oval

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