Grand injustice if Eagles face Magpies in decider
RICHMOND will be on a 23-game winning streak at the MCG if (as expected) the Tigers play in the AFL grand final on Saturday, September 29.
And considering the Tigers won the minor premiership - with a two-win advantage on second-placed West Coast (18 wins to 16) - there should be no debate about the advantage Richmond would carry by playing for consecutive AFL flags on its home ground.
But what if there is a stumble at the last hurdle? What if the grand final delivers a match-up of West Coast and third-ranked Collingwood?
The debate on how the Victorian State Government put a lock on the AFL grand final at the MCG - until 2057 - with a $500 million deal will become more intense.
Consider the West Coast-Collingwood match-up in a grand final.
West Coast deserves every advantage for:
RANKING higher than Collingwood this season by 16 wins in the home-and-away season - one more than the Magpies.
BEATING Collingwood - by 35 points on July 15 - in the only game between the clubs in the home-and-away series. And that was at the MCG.
REAFFIRMING its superiority with an epic win against Collingwood - by 16 points - in Saturday night's historic qualifying final in the new Perth Stadium that was filled with the largest crowd to an AFL game in Western Australia (59,585).
But an Eagles-Magpies grand final would have to be played at the MCG where the only "advantages" the Eagles would be offered are superficial - such as shorts, named first on the scoreboard and entering the field first.
Collingwood has played 14 games at the MCG this season (it will become 15 with the semi-final against Greater Western Sydney on Saturday and 16 with a preliminary final against the Tigers). The Magpies have an 8-6 win-loss record on the MCG so far this season.
West Coast would reach the grand final with just two games on the MCG this year - wins against Carlton and Collingwood.
It just does not seem right.
The argument that the MCG is the only Australian venue that can deliver 100,000 seats for the AFL grand final is far too shallow when a premiership should be decided on what is fair to the competitors rather than good for the treasury at AFL House.
For the record, Perth Stadium's 60,000-seat capacity - and this compares favourably with the 67,612 seats that were filled for American football's grand finale, the Super Bowl at US Bank Stadium at Minneapolis in February. And more so with the 61,561 seats taken up for European club football's play-off for the UEFA Champions League title - won by Real Madrid against Liverpool - in May at the NSC Olimpiyskiy Stadium in Kiev, Ukraine.
Of course, the hosting rights for the Super Bowl and Champions League finals are put up for auction to deliver a financial benefit for their sports - and incentives for cities to build sporting infrastructure. The AFL, by contrast, has put itself in a bind at the MCG.
Richmond will have earned its right to a home grand final this season. But if there is a West Coast-Collingwood grand final, prepare for the debate on Australian football's biggest game being locked to the MCG for the next 40 years to become more intense.