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Demetriou tells Demons fans to turn up

06/06/2008 06:33:33 PM Comments (0)

The AFL have sent a simple message to fans of beleaguered club Melbourne - turn up or miss out.

League chief executive Andrew Demetriou said Melbourne might lose the annual Queen's Birthday blockbuster against Collingwood at the MCG unless at least 60,000 fans attended Monday's game.

The Demons are last with only one win and this season have not attracted a crowd of more than 47,000.

"If I (was a) Melbourne supporter, I would get out and support my team against Collingwood," Demetriou told the Fairfax Radio Network.

"This is a game that has always been one we've pencilled every year in as a permanent fixture, but unless there are 60-65,000 people, we would seriously consider giving that game to other clubs who are desperate to have an event.

"That game should command a 65-70,000 crowd, it's only really from the kindness of Collingwood, which I support Eddie (Magpies president Eddie McGuire) on, that they've allowed Melbourne to have this as a home game, where they keep the gate.

"There are six or seven other clubs who would be desperate to play that game as a home game."

It was already a massive long weekend for the Demons before Demetriou made his comments.

About 1200 people will attend Saturday night's function, where the club will celebrate their 150th anniversary.

There is also speculation that chairman Paul Gardner could use his official pre-match speech on Monday to announce his impending resignation from the role.

Gardner wants no attention diverted from Saturday night's celebrations and has declined to comment.

The Demons issued a two-sentence media release late on Friday afternoon in response to Demetriou's comments, quoting chief executive Paul McNamee.

"I believe Melbourne makes a compelling case for the continuance of the Queen's Birthday blockbuster, as I'd assume Collingwood does for its Anzac Day fixture," McNamee said.

"Having said that, on the weekend of our 150th anniversary, we'd like to see a crowd of over 60,000, given good weather."

Also on Friday, Demetriou laughed off a newspaper report that revealed he will miss a commemorative football match in favour of the Beijing Olympics opening ceremony.

Demetriou confirmed he has turned down an invitation to the MCG event on August 8, the same day as the opening ceremony.

He and AFL chairman Mike Fitzpatrick will be guests of football and Olympics broadcaster Channel Seven at the Games.

The MCG event is part of the league's celebrations for 150 years of Australian football.

"When I saw my name on the front page near (crime boss) Tony Mokbel's, I nearly fell off my chair," he said.

Demetriou added sarcastically: "Lord knows, why would I go to the opening ceremony of the Olympics?

"I was invited to the Olympics nine months ago and that's how long it's been in my diary.

"We run a very large sporting code and it's very important we get to see how these things are run, maybe we'll get a few ideas for the pre-match at the grand final.

"I kindly received an invitation from Melbourne Grammar via fax a few weeks ago, I politely declined."

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