Hawks chief calls for 50 per cent crowd capacity when footy restarts
Hawks chief calls for 50 per cent crowd capacity when footy restarts

Let the footy crowds back in: Kennett

Footy fans should be allowed to flow back into the MCG for Round 1 in line with the same logic being applied to the Australian Open tennis, Hawthorn president Jeff Kennett says.

Kennett said the Victorian Government's decision to "abandon" its COVID-19 elimination strategy in favor of allowing crowds at Melbourne Park must now be adopted for AFL matches.

The Olympic Blvd tennis precinct will be divided into three ticketed 'zones' when the Open kicks off on February 9 allowing for crowds of up to 50 per cent capacity.

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An empty MCG for the Richmond-Carlton clash in Round 1 last year. Picture: Michael Klein
An empty MCG for the Richmond-Carlton clash in Round 1 last year. Picture: Michael Klein

 

"If we are going to have crowds at the tennis, then we are certainly going to have crowds in Round 1," Kennett said.

"I think they should be at 30 to 50 per cent. Two months' away, who knows, it might be a lot better than that.

"We all live in hope that this virus is under control and that our glorious leaders, politically, are learning everyday and that they will see the wisdom of managing the virus rather than trying to eliminate it and close society down.

"The fact that the Premier (Daniel Andrews) has so totally abandoned his elimination process ... if he's prepared to do that for the tennis Open, you'd imagine that he will allow crowds back at the MCG and down at the Geelong stadium.

"That fills me with one sense of hope but as you know there is no consistency in his message.

"So I just hope that what he is doing with the tennis Open, which I agree with, is actually an example of what is going to happen for sport throughout the rest of the year."

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kennett said the AFL industry "was a bit on tenterhooks" less than 60 days out from the Richmond-Carlton season opener at the MCG on March 18.

Contingencies are being made for a return to hubs if necessary, he said, but the experience of last season held the game in better stead if a worst case scenario emerged again.

The 'fly in, fly out' model used for parts of last season for teams travelling to interstate matches is the league's preferred option.

The league chose to lock in just six rounds of its 2021 fixture with a view to remaining agile in the event of another coronavirus outbreak.

 

 

 

 

2020 Boxing Day Test Australia vs India MCG Day 1. Social distancing of the crowd in the stands. Picture: David Caird
2020 Boxing Day Test Australia vs India MCG Day 1. Social distancing of the crowd in the stands. Picture: David Caird

 

 

The Andrews Government closed the NSW border during the Christmas break, but has allowed hundreds of overseas tennis players and officials to fly into Melbourne for the Open.

Gate takings will be crucial in helping the economic recovery of AFL clubs this year.

The Boxing Day Test was capped at 30,000 fans, while 15,000 were permitted to attend Sunday night's Star-Renegades Big Bash derby at the MCG.

Kennett said Hawks football boss Graham Wright had informed the club of his decision to vacate his post late last year.

"Graham indicated some time ago that he was going to retire and that was well before Christmas," he said.

"We agreed to that with sadness, he's been a very good soldier, but he's been with us for 14 years and he thought that it was time for a change and that's fair enough.

"It was only after that that Collingwood, in search of a replacement, approached him.

"So it's not as though they poached him because he had already made the decision to go."

Collingwood confirmed on Monday that Wright had been appointed as the club's general manager of football operations.

Kennett said a subcommittee had been formed to identify his replacement.

Originally published as Let the footy crowds back in: Kennett