Are we set for a night Grand Final in 2020? Picture: AAP Images
Are we set for a night Grand Final in 2020? Picture: AAP Images

Night grand final ‘odds-on’, MCG set to host

THE AFL won't be rushed into a decision on whether to stage a historic night grand final this year, but the MCG is almost certain to host the game following Cricket Australia's push to postpone the T20 World Cup.

It comes as a leading sports marketing expert predicts a 2020 night grand final is "odds-on" in what is already one of the most unusual seasons in history due to the coronavirus.

Leading football identities including Collingwood president Eddie McGuire - a member of the AFL's coronavirus "war cabinet" - have forecast the strong likelihood of a break in tradition this year.

Moonee Valley Racing Club has also flagged its intentions of running a day Cox Plate on October 24 in the hope the AFL would stage a night grand final that evening.

The AFL has looked at a range of options for its marquee match, but is yet to lock into a date or time.

Will this moment happen at night in 2020? Picture: Getty Images
Will this moment happen at night in 2020? Picture: Getty Images

This may not happen for a few months as the league navigates an ever-changing fixture and varying border restrictions across the country, particularly in Western Australia and South Australia.

October 24 has been slated as the most likely date for the 2020 AFL grand final.

But the ongoing COVID-19 threat, border restrictions in several states and the option of introducing a bye to assist fatigued players could mean the finals series could yet be pushed back.

The AFL had left the door ajar for Marvel Stadium to host the Grand Final, given the T20 World Cup was scheduled for the MCG in October and November.

But the MCG will likely be vacant after CA chairman Earl Eddings this week asked the International Cricket Council to shift the T20 World Cup to 2021.

RMIT University associate professor and sports marketing expert Con Stavros told the Sunday Herald Sun he believed the AFL might be more willing to allow the broadcasters to have a greater say in timing of this year's Grand Final, given the financial hit all have taken from the coronavirus pandemic.

"I think the media (the broadcasters) will be the people in the end who will come in and say this (a night grand fFinal) will work for us better," Dr Stavros said.

"The AFL is about to do a (new broadcasting) deal (with Channel 7 and Foxtel), so if you are a TV station, it is a no-brainer.

"I think it's odds-on that it will be a night grand final this year."

A recent Herald Sun survey found 73 per cent of fans supported a night grand final in 2020, but only 17 per cent wanted to make it a permanent move.

Stavros said fans might prove more receptive to a change this year given the unusual nature of the season and he acknowledged that a boost in TV audiences by an expected 10 to 15 per cent might see it locked in on a permanent basis.