No AFL crowds just yet: CEO McLachlan

It might have to wait another week but AFL chief executive Gillon McLachlan says the league is ready to welcome back crowds once given the green light by state governments.

It comes as the Queensland government rejected a claim that it had already approved the Gabba and Metricon Stadium to be at 25 per cent capacity for games as soon as this weekend.

McLachlan is hopeful of an announcement this week while Gold Coast chairman Tony Cochrane confirmed the club was pushing for a “test crowd” of up to 1000 people at Saturday’s clash with West Coast.

However, on Tuesday Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said the state’s chief health officer was yet to approve any proposals and that spectators would not be allowed at AFL games in the state this week.

“It won’t be this weekend, but we have plans in currently with our chief health officer,” the premier said.

“We want to see crowds supporting their local football matches but also future netball games (and) sport across the board.

“We have to be measured and responsible and that’s why the plans are currently with the chief health officer and once she ticks off those plans she’ll get back to those organisations and we’ll be able to make some public announcements.”

The NRL has been granted permission for small groups of no more than 50 in a corporate box to attend games in Sydney this weekend at a ratio of one person every four square metres.

GWS have raised the prospect of hosting corporate supporters at their round two match against North Melbourne at Giants Stadium on Sunday.

McLachlan told SEN that the AFL was waiting on similar authorisation.

“I think there will be announcements this week but as we sit here … my understanding is there’s not an authorisation in Queensland and there’s not an authorisation in NSW,” McLachlan said.

“That may change. There are discussions going on all the time and we’re ready if it changes.

“But right here, right now there is not an authorisation that I’m aware of.”

There is a push in South Australia for fans to attend the Power-Crows clash at Adelaide Oval, but the Showdown appears set to be played behind closed doors.

“I don’t think there will be (fans at the Showdown),” McLachlan said.

“It’s a big deal in itself to be getting away this weekend.

“I think in most states we’ll get supporters back (in time)… we’ll work through it in the right way.”

Opening up grounds to a limited amount of people won’t be profitable but McLachlan is unfazed 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.”

Meanwhile, McLachlan is 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 other states.

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