The AFL and everyone connected to Aussie rules are braced for an uncomfortable conversation regarding the future of the grand final. It all comes down to whether the final that was last held in late October at the Gabba in Brisbane, will continue to be played in the evening or whether the powers that be will revert the showpiece back to the afternoon playing at the MCG.

For well over a century, the grand final has been played in the afternoon and that is what footy fans have grown accustomed to. It is therefore understandable that any hint of change to a day on the calendar that most people love will bring about a disproportionately strong reaction. Most ardent sports lovers are traditionalists at heart and it’s easy to understand why. It is, after all, those very same traditions of any respective sport that initially captured their attention and subsequent love for the game.

Aussie rules, though, is not the first sport to have its identity put into doubt by those that put turning a profit at the top of any agenda. We’ve seen alterations to Test cricket and the introduction of the pink ball in order to ‘save the game.’ This brief history of pink-ball cricket will elaborate more but the big change, in essence, was that Test cricket was no longer to be played in the morning, with the new time slot scheduled for the evening. The thinking was that this would entice more people to the ground after work as well as generating a higher TV audience. Is this all starting to sound familiar?

Further afield, we have seen changes in the English Premier League with most games in the top-flight no longer kicking off at the traditional 15:00 time on a Saturday afternoon. These days, the historic teams in England’s top-flight will play on a Monday evening, Friday evening, and even Sunday evening.

One could go on with a list of examples but the point is, this is a recurring pattern. However, it doesn’t always have to be for the worst. Indeed, despite the hullabaloo at first, many football fans enjoy the thrill of a game under the lights on a Monday and as far as Test cricket goes, long summer evenings spent on the grass embankment watching the game has turned out to be quite fun.

Naturally, these changes aren’t for everyone and there was a feeling of concern during Richmond’s thrilling comeback win over Geelong in front of thirty thousand people at the Gabba.

That anxiety wasn’t because it was Richmond’s third flag in four years and the fact that they are the out-and-out favourites to win the 2021 showpiece in Aussie Rules betting. It had nothing to do with supporters concerned about how they will stop this sensational team in the future but, rather, the reality that the sport may have seen the last afternoon final.

If this turns out to be the case, it will be a particularly bitter pill to swallow as no one had a chance to revel in one last afternoon final. One minute it was there; the next, a new dawn had been ushered in with no warning.

We’re a long way away from that decision being made, though, and the groundswell of opinion seems to be that they will stick with the afternoon time slot. But, as we’ve found out in the past, the overriding feeling among fans does very little to stop those who chase lucrative bottom lines.