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NRL under fire as fans face stadium lock out over final

NRL boss Andrew Abdo has ruled out reconsidering the league’s venue policy for future finals series, despite the prospect of thousands of frustrated fans being locked out of Cronulla’s clash with the Sydney Roosters.

Almost all seated tickets for Saturday’s elimination final sold out within an hour of the members’ pre-sale beginning on Monday morning, with only single seats available by midday.

A limited number of tickets have been held back for the general public on Tuesday but the match is poised to sell out shortly after they go on sale at 10am.

The Roosters and Sharks have 34,000 club members between them, while the two clubs have a combined average crowd of 36,000 this year.

But with a reduced capacity of 13,500 due to the redevelopment of the adjoining leagues club, PointsBet Stadium is easily the smallest ground in the NRL this year.

The league gives clubs the choice of where to host their first-week finals match and there is little motivation for Cronulla to move the match away from their traditional home.

Taking it to a bigger venue at Allianz Stadium would gift the lower-ranked Roosters home-ground advantage, while clubs do not pocket gate takings for finals matches.

The NRL moved away from the use of suburban grounds in 2011 to limit the number of fans being locked out of finals matches but made a return in 2019 due to the redevelopment of several major stadiums.

At the time, then-CEO Todd Greenberg said the league would consider a move back to big stadiums after the major venues were back online.

But Abdo insisted there was no reason for the NRL to shift back.

“At this stage there is no plan to change anything,” Abdo told AAP.

“The important thing to remember is there are four weeks of finals. Week one it is about rewarding a club for where it finished on the ladder, and those fans.

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