AFL boss reveals plans for women's decider
AFL chief executive Gillon McLachlan has revealed prospective plans for the AFLW grand final should it be played between two Melbourne teams, with Ikon Park to be the likely venue.
With Collingwood yet to record a win, and the Western Bulldogs just one win from three matches, Melbourne and Carlton shape as the Victorian-based teams most likely to play off for the premiership.
The dominant and undefeated Adelaide Crows are favourites to finish on top of the ladder, which would mean the grand final would be played at the Adelaide Oval on the Saturday afternoon of round one of the men's competition.
It is understood the Gabba would host the decider if the Lions - the only other undefeated team - finished on top.
However, a series of Adele concerts scheduled for the Gabba could mean the grand final would be staged at Metricon Stadium if the Lions are the minor premiers.
McLachlan said should Carlton and Melbourne finish first and second on the ladder, the grand final - "without being definitive" - would likely be played at Ikon Park, as AFLW has helped fans connect with the "romance" of the game.
Speaking to SEN, McLachlan added that the game would likely to be ticketed to avoid a replica of the round one lockout for the league's first game between the Blues and the Pies.
But the league boss insisted that the grand final - no matter where it was played - would still be free of charge to the public.
Asked about a better pay deal for AFLW players - the average wage for a player is $8500 - and the potential renegotiation of the TV broadcast rights, McLachlan said there would be no immediate movement on both fronts until after the two-year deal had ceased.
On the expansion of the eight-team AFLW, the league boss said the five clubs with provisional licenses - Geelong, Richmond, West Coast, St Kilda and North Melbourne - would be the "first cabs off the rank" for winning new spots in the competition, with McLachlan revealing the possibility of a 12-team league split into two conferences.
McLachlan said he was thrilled with the hype around the competition in its first year.
"This is here to stay," McLachlan told SEN on Friday morning.
"The quality of the game is going to improve dramatically and it's going to be a big part of the football landscape."
Meanwhile, McLachlan said a decision on the timeslot of this year's AFL grand final would be made prior to round one, adding that a twilight match could "technically" occur.
If not this year, McLachlan said a twilight grand final would happen at some stage during the league's six-year broadcast deal.
He said he was a big fan of the twilight timeslot, pointing to the thrilling atmosphere of last year's preliminary final between the GWS Giants and Western Bulldogs at Spotless Stadium.
"If you were at the GWS prelim last year, there was something special about starting the game in the day and finishing in the night," McLachlan said.
McLachlan said the league faced a tough call on when and how to implement a twilight grand final, saying balancing the pros of a bigger TV audience and the night atmosphere with the cons of potentially hindering tradition and history was a difficult task.
He also joked that his ideal musical act at grand final would be Bruce Springsteen.
McLachlan was also asked about the hot topic of the week in the longevity of the centre bounce, with fresh calls this week to scrap it altogether.
While he didn't shed any light on its future, he admitted he wasn't aware until this week of the link between the bounce and injuries and issues umpires faced.
McLachlan also said it could be a big barrier for aspiring AFL umpires who have come from a local level.
"It's a difficult skill that prohibits a lot umpires from making it to the highest level because they can't perfect it, including females," McLachlan said.