The AFL is investigating whether spectators could return to games in small numbers, including the possibility of starting with 50 seated patrons.
The AFL is investigating whether spectators could return to games in small numbers, including the possibility of starting with 50 seated patrons.

Footy plan to let groups of 50 fans attend games

The AFL is investigating whether up to 50 fans could attend games as soon as next month.

The league has formed a working party to oversee the return of spectators at games including the possibility of starting with 50 seated patrons at the MCG and Marvel Stadium.

While a timeline has not been set, there are increasing hopes the State Government will consider allowing small AFL crowds from July.

It would be a massive boost for the sport and particularly longstanding club members who look set to be the first in line for any available tickets.

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The "return to crowds" working party - led by Marvel Stadium chief executive ­Michael Green and AFL product and innovation general manager David Stevenson - is considering how the tickets would be divided among club, MCC and AFL members, and some corporate partners.

Trent Cotchin of the Tigers holds a sign for the fans at an empty stadium in Round 1. Picture: Michael Klein
Trent Cotchin of the Tigers holds a sign for the fans at an empty stadium in Round 1. Picture: Michael Klein

An AFL spokesman on Wednesday night said the league wanted to reward the loyalty of its fans and partners throughout the recent shutdown if the restrictions eased.

"The AFL has formed a working group to explore the possibility of crowds attending matches, and how it could be successfully and safely implemented should changes to government restrictions in the future allow for the return of supporters," the spokesman said.

"The group will also work with clubs to ensure club members and other key partners who have supported them through the COVID-19 pandemic are rewarded for their loyalty and commitment.

 

The AFL is investigating whether up to 50 fans could attend games as soon as next month. Picture: Michael Klein
The AFL is investigating whether up to 50 fans could attend games as soon as next month. Picture: Michael Klein

 

"Like all decisions though the COVID-19 pandemic, we will be led by the State Governments and relevant Chief Health Officers as to if and when this can become a ­reality."

From June 22, up to 50 people will be able to gather in some public venues including zoos, amusement parks and restaurants. AFL venues are currently not included, but there are hopes they could be next in line to benefit as restrictions continue to ease around the country.

Sporting venues are developing safe-seating plans which would cater for thousands of fans to watch lives games in ­accordance with social distancing protocols.

Fans surround Dustin Martin and Liam Baker as the Tigers celebrating winning the 2019 Grand Final. Picture: Getty Images
Fans surround Dustin Martin and Liam Baker as the Tigers celebrating winning the 2019 Grand Final. Picture: Getty Images

Up to 30,000 fans could be seated for the AFL Grand Final, pending approval from authorities.

It means fans would be separated by empty seats and be required to arrive and exit the venue at prescribed times and use allocated amenities including toilets.

Tourism, Sport and Major Events Minister Martin Pakula said the public's health was always the top priority.

"Decisions on crowds at sporting events will be made based on the advice of the Chief Health Officer," Mr ­Pakula said.

"We understand the desire of Victorians to once again ­attend sporting events, but public safety must remain the number one consideration."

jay.clark@news.com.au

Originally published as AFL probes letting groups of 50 fans attend games


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