Australian Football League: Clubs threaten to take home games interstate

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Monday, March 23, 2009

An external view of the Melbourne Cricket Ground

Australian Football League clubs in Melbourne have threatened to move their matches interstate after a breakdown in negotiations over poor stadium deals at the Melbourne Cricket Ground.

Western Bulldogs president David Smorgon, who was acting as the delegate for the league's sixteen clubs, said that Victorian teams would consider moving matches interstate or to Visy Park in Carlton.

"It's an idea, nothing threatening," Smorgon said. "But we're not going to sit back and do nothing. We've got other options and they include engaging our fans and briefing the 360,000 members we have".

Both options - playing at Visy Park and interstate - were conditional on a fairer deal for clubs not being struck. Clubs stressed, at a meeting with the AFL, that they did not want to resort to those measure.

"We've talked about such things as writing to all of our fans, all of our members, explaining it to them, so they get a full understanding of it, about the seriousness of the situation," Smorgon said. "We've talked about maybe Victorian clubs have to play a game or two interstate, but these are just a range of options that we do have. But we want to back in the Government again, to go back and see whether they can have another go at getting a fairer deal".

James Merlino, the Victorian state Sports Minister, responded by stating that the government had already spent $176 million on AFL football, and that "no code gets better support in either the grassroots or the elite from the Government than AFL football".

The AFL and its clubs are asking the Victorian government for AU$8 million a year in additional funding.