On June 15th, 53459 buoyant Carlton and Hawthorn fans converged on Telstra Dome to set a new record for the venue. This Sunday, Hawthorn play traditional crowd pullers Collingwood in what has been billed as the match in the round in a game that will attract even more spectators. The only problem is, the fans wonâ€™t be there to see it.
Thousands of people will be left out of the cold while at the nearby Empty G, Western Bulldogs will play Kangaroos in a half empty stadium. What makes it even worse for Collingwood and Hawthorn fans is that this match will not be shown on free to air television.
AFL commercial officer Gillon McLachlan has predictably sprouted off about how the AFL must honour deals with Telstra Dome but wouldnâ€™t it be nice if for once the AFL exercised some commonsense and flexibility and started to give a rats about the people who really count, the fans? The next time the contracts come out, how about putting in some clauses that actually maximise match attendances and television ratings? This year has seen a laughable TV rights deal, poor fixturing, woeful rule interpretations and now the farce that will evolve in front of our very eyes as thousands of fans miss out on this Sunday nightâ€™s highly anticipated match. The AFL is succeeding in spite of itself.
Having no football on television does not promote the AFL. Having spectators locked out of Telstra Dome does not promote a positive image of Telstra. The current administration and the legacy of the failed â€˜peoplesâ€™ venueâ€™ of Waverley sends out a deafening message of indifference towards the gameâ€™s bread and butter ï¿½ the people.
And so the winter of our discontent goes on. Take heed Mr Demetriou, thou shalt not bite the hand that feeds.