AFL to sacrifice cash for crowds return

AFL boss Gillon McLachlan says the league will cop further financial pain if it means passionate supporters are allowed back into games sooner.

It comes as Nine reports Queensland premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has given the all-clear for stadiums in the Sunshine State to be at 25 per cent capacity as soon as this weekend.

Opening up grounds to a limited amount of people won’t be profitable, but McLachlan isn’t fazed despite the COVID-19 pandemic already bringing about the biggest financial crisis in the league’s history.

“I think most of the crowds in the smaller numbers are going to be uneconomic,” McLachlan told Fox Footy.

“But our members and supporters have been unbelievable and are in the process of getting clubs through (this crisis).

“We’ll be investing back in our supporters as much as anything to be able for them to go to the football.

“It’s not an economic decision to be opening up the venues it’s actually about the core of the game and the heartbeat of it which is our supporters and members.”

GWS have been pushing to allow corporate guests into this Sunday’s match against North Melbourne.

But McLachlan said when crowds are back at games it wouldn’t just involve people paying large amounts of money for the experience.

“Whenever it plays out, there will be a balance of members and supporters as much as corporates,” he said.

McLachlan is also growing increasingly confident that Victorian games won’t be played behind closed doors for the entire season despite infection rates there remaining higher than in most other states.

On Saturday, McLachlan declared he is hopeful of having a capacity crowd at this year’s grand final at the MCG.

“At some point, there’s going to be members and supporters going to the footy in Victoria,” he said.

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