'Soft' ANZ Stadium surface irks AFL boss - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

'Soft' ANZ Stadium surface irks AFL boss

By Roger Vaughan 07/07/2008 07:41:04 PM Comments (0)

AFL chief executive Andrew Demetriou has sent a stern hint to ANZ Stadium, saying the issue of the soft surface "will be addressed".

Sydney and Collingwood players left dozens of divots on the ground during Saturday night's game.

The ground along the wings, which was covered by retractable seating during last week's State Of Origin rugby league decider, was particularly soft.

While the AFL was pleased with the crowd of nearly 60,000, Demetriou said players had found it difficult to adjust to the surface.

"There's a lot of traffic on ANZ Stadium, I guess that's something ... stadium management will have to look at in the future," Demetriou said.

"From an AFL perspective, we're not used to grounds like that, that are soft.

"It was certainly passed by our independent turf specialist, so it wasn't an issue there, but if you go to any AFL games now, you'll see the games being played on surfaces which are conducive to outstanding football, because it's not soft.

"It's not whether we're playing (at) an indoor stadium, it's even (at) our outdoor stadiums."

ANZ Stadium will become increasingly important to the AFL as it progresses with the plan to base an 18th team in western Sydney.

"We're just not used to playing on grounds like that and I guess as we continue to play at ANZ Stadium, which we will, particularly as we go into the 18th licence, the issues of the softness will have to be something that will be addressed," Demetriou said.

Meanwhile, the AFL has renewed its lucrative deal with Toyota, signing a three-year extension.

The new deal is worth more than $10 million per year to the league and will mean the sponsorship goes at least to the end of the 2011 season.

The AFL bills the agreement as "one of the biggest sponsorship deals in Australian sport".

Toyota also contributes about $1 million per season into grass-roots football.

Demetriou said the league is "incredibly proud" that the AFL is now about 160,000 fans, or four per cent, ahead of last year's all-time attendance record.

The league hopes to break the seven million mark for the regular season.

Demetriou said the AFL has already set records this year for club membership and participation.

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