The Brownlow Medal count this year will be conducted as an entirely virtual event for the first time as the AFL’s showpiece events continue to be affected by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
The league’s best and fairest award ceremony will take place on a Sunday night – October 18 – to kick off a week of festivities leading into the grand final.
The AFL confirmed the latest alteration to its traditional calendar on Wednesday, citing difficulties around holding the event amid coronavirus concerns.
More than 1000 guests usually attend the black-tie Brownlow Medal count at Melbourne’s Crown Palladium, where the glamorous red carpet arrivals of players and their partners have become almost as big as the award itself.
“The Charles Brownlow Medal is our game’s highest individual honour and continues to be the most prestigious night of the AFL calendar,” AFL commercial manager Kylie Rogers said.
“It’s incredibly difficult to get people together in indoor event spaces in a responsible manner given the current environment, and the community’s safety has been at the forefront of every decision we’ve made.
“While the glamour of the red carpet will be missed this year, we are looking forward to delivering a special format made specifically for the broadcast audience at home, so our fans can continue to celebrate their heroes and their achievements this year.”
AFL chief executive Gillon McLachlan will read the votes from Queensland in a count that will be broadcast on the Seven Network.
The league will confirm further arrangements in the coming weeks.
Brisbane midfielder Lachie Neale is the short-priced favourite to win the Brownlow Medal, which will be awarded for the 93rd time this year.