The AFL Women’s Competition has won out, with round five’s AFL match between the Western Bulldogs and Gold Coast Suns being rescheduled to “ensure clear air and no crossover” with the 2021 NAB AFL Women’s Grand Final.
The AFL’s previous schedule saw the Women’s Grand Final, which will be played at 2:00 pm AEST on Saturday the 17th of April, clash with the Bulldogs vs. Suns clash at 1:45 pm AEST.
The AFL saw widespread backlash from the media and public, as the biggest event on the women’s football calendar would be rivaled by the men’s game. Spectators would have been forced to choose which game they would watch live, and if the game were to be played at the MCG in Melbourne both matches would be attracting a crowd at the same time.
Caroline Wilson was vocal about the need to change the fixture to support the Women’s Competition on Footy Classified on Monday night.
“The AFL wants clubs and supporters to be nimble and flexible, but what a pity it hasn’t followed suit when the AFLW Grand Final is concerned,” she stated on Nine’s Footy Classified.
The change will now see the Grand Final be played in the home state of the side who was ranked highest in the regular season and has won through to the final game of the season. The Adelaide Oval, the MCG, or The Gabba are all in the running to host the event on Saturday afternoon.
There will be an additional fixture change in the case of the Grand Final being played at the MCG. Round five’s AFL clash between Carlton and Port Adelaide at the same venue will consequently be pushed back by 15 minutes to a start time of 7:40 pm AEST to ensure the stadium is cleaned and ready to hold a new crowd.
AFL Chief Executive Officer Gillon McLachlan has supported the change, stating that the AFLW deserves to have the biggest stage for its Grand Final.
“The 2021 NAB AFL Women’s Competition has been the best season to date and we look forward to the biggest game of the season being played on the biggest stage,” McLachlan said.
“The Finals Series has so far proven to be an extremely competitive one – any of the top four teams can win through to the Grand Final.”
On Wednesday, AFL’s General Manager of Women’s Football Nicole Livingstone confirmed and welcomed the change in the fixture to accommodate the 2021 Women’s Grand Final.
“After a momentous effort from everyone involved in the 2021 NAB AFL Women’s Competition to complete a nine-round Premiership Season, followed by a three-week Finals Series, it is incredibly exciting to be able to confirm the start time and date for the 2021 NAB AFL Women’s Grand Final,” Livingstone said.
“On behalf of the AFL, I want to again thank all clubs, players and the AFLPA, umpires, venues, governments, ticket agents, and our broadcast and commercial partners for their understanding and continued support of the NAB AFL Women’s Competition.”
Tickets for the Women’s Grand Final will be confirmed on Saturday the 10th of April after the Preliminary Finals. As has been present throughout the Finals Series, tickets will be priced at $10 for adults, with children under the age of 18 admitted for free.