Have no fear, Gil is here and he's got all the turf in the Kingdom

With another Sydney derby final looming on the horizon, given the dominoes fall the way they need to, the ANZ stadium will be the AFL's choice of venue.

Despite the Olympic venue hosting just one AFL match in the last two years, AFL league boss Gillon McLachlan is adamant the coffers must be filled.

The AFL are reportedly so keen on the venue, they're willing to truck in 5,000 square metres of their own turf from Victoria.

It was estimated last month that the turf required to bring the ANZ stadium up to scratch for an AFL final would cost upwards of $500,000, however trucking their own turf in -
which is being prepared for Etihad stadium - would cost around $300,000.

“The cheapest solution is to truck turf up that we have prepared for Etihad Stadium and then take it back,” said McLachlan, who was in Sydney to launch the AFL finals series.

“The plan would be to lay it down early in the week and then pick it, put it in a truck and take it home. It would be a couple of hundred thousand dollars cheaper to truck the turf in. The turf in Victoria belongs to us, it’s in a farm north one hour north of Melbourne.”

The two Sydney teams could meet if they both win this round, and the Swans win their semi-final between the loser of the Geelong-Richmond qualifying match.

During last years' finals series, finishing higher on the ladder mattered for naught, as the Swans were punted from their SCG home ground in favour of the ANZ stadium, pulling in a crowd of 60,222, the third biggest finals crowd outside Melbourne in the game's history.

Unperturbed, the AFL will move the game to ANZ to maximise not only the crowd, but the revenue generated, with ticket prices expected to climb to cover the absurd cost of relaying turf on a venue that hasn't featured an AFL game in over a year.

The AFL will also have to do some hand-wringing and negotiating with the NRL if the Eels defeat the Storm this weekend, as they'll be hosting a preliminary final at ANZ that weekend.

“There is an NRL scheduling challenge but the fixture team are in discussions with them,” McLachlan said.

“We want our finals to have as many people get there as we can,” McLachlan said.

“If you have the opportunity for 70,000 to go to a game and there is the chance to get into a grand final I think it would be a huge event and we should play it on the biggest stage we can. That’s what finals are about.”

Like the Swans last year, the Giants would be giving up home-ground advantage playing at ANZ, but CEO David Mathews said playing at the venue made sense after last years' success.

“We don’t worry about the turf, start times, line markings or the temperature of the pies. We concern ourselves with winning,” he said.

The proposal to reconfigure the ANZ stadium into a rectangular venue would end the venues' ability to host AFL games, something that Gil is hopeful doesn't eventuate.

“The NSW government know that we would like it to stay as an oval for things like a Sydney v GWS Preliminary final,” McLachlan said.

“We understand our voice is relatively small in the conversation because it’s for irregular events. GWS play at Spotless and the Swans play at the SCG that’s our view but we understand the preferences and we’ve got a small voice.”

If the game is moved to ANZ, expect higher-than-normal ticket prices, as well as forking over your hard earned cash on vastly overpriced food and beverages.

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Justin Mitchell

Justin is a passionate AFL and Sydney Swans supporter, and football blogger since 2016. All articles are of his own opinion. You can reach him by twitter and Facebook at @theswansblog

Melbourne, Australia https://theswansblog.com

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