Australia

THAT SINKING FEELING: Footy fans shred AFL’s big Grand Final switch

Tyson Otto

The AFL Grand Final was still hours away when the first social media pile on of the day exploded around the controversial move to a night timeslot.

The prime-time shift may very well create a record TV audience for the decider, but it didn't sit well with traditionalists early in the day.

In a year of firsts for the league, the AFL announced earlier this year the grand final would move to a night time slot for the first time as part of a decision to move the biggest game of the year to the Gabba.

It didn't take long for the reality of a night time timeslot to sink in with footy commentators.

Swans Champion Jude Bolton and popular comedian Wendy Harmer were among the stars to criticise the move.

"Feeling for all #AFL followers today. Welcome to #NRL world… not only in the evening but on a SCHOOL NIGHT this year!!" Harmer wrote.

AFL funnyman Titus O'Reily tweeted: "This is like waking up in Christmas Day and then being told you can’t open your presents until tonight."

Former footy journo Rohan Connolly added: "Is it sinking in about now a night GF was only ever a good idea in the minds of TV executives scrambling for a few more thousand viewers, and 'event' types who don't give a s**t about the game & will probably talk more about the entertainment? Both can FRO."

Sports writer Vince Rugari said: "Night AFL grand final seems like a good idea until the actual day arrives and you realise you’ve got to occupy yourself until 7.30pm. Rhythm of a 2.10pm first bounce GF day is unbeatable for house parties/long arvos at the pub into nighttime shenanigans. Let’s not do this again."

Tyson Otto

The AFL's grand final day schedule is expected to be torn up as a result of the concerning weather in Brisbane.

The league reportedly has a back up plan for the wet weather and electrical storms swirling around Brisbane on Saturday night – but the plans could see the start of the game delayed.

AFL reporter Damian Barrett told Triple M the league could be forced to pull the pre-game entertainment because of the expensive equipment used by the acts involved.

Channel 7's Tom Brown said: "The weather is threatening to cause chaos and havoc with some of the entertainment, particularly the symphony orchestra, if there's lightning. The AFL is monitoring that."

The Herald Sun's Jon Ralph posted on Twitter the AFL's worst case scenario is to see the first bounce delayed an hour until 8.30pm (AEDT).

"Doesn’t matter how wet it gets, the show will go on," Ralph wrote on Twitter.

"It’s the thunderstorms within 10km that could see it postponed by an hour in a worst-case scenario."

Tyson Otto

The AFL was given further reason to panic on Saturday afternoon when it was confirmed the Doomben race meeting had been abandoned because of the wet and wild weather.

Races 7-10 on the 10-race meeting at Doomben Racecourse were cancelled because of the approaching electrical storm.

The development won't thrill the AFL, but the worst of the rain and thunder is expected to pass through Brisbane before the 7.30pm (AEDT) first bounce is scheduled.

Under the AFL’s Extreme Weather Policy, if lightning is present within 10km of a ground, the match has to be stopped and all players have to head indoors.

The match will then only get back underway once the lightning has vanished from the 10km radius for more than 30 minutes.

“Under the lightning rule they can delay the match by up to an hour,” an AFL spokesperson said.

“It has happened before, but it’s very rare.”

A pre-season game in 2020 between West Coast and Essendon was postponed due to lightning, as was a game in 2014 between GWS and Sydney.

Read more about the wet weather fears here.

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