AFL fans miss out on Saints, Cats clash - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

AFL fans miss out on Saints, Cats clash

By Adam Cooper 29/05/2009 05:56:23 PM Comments (0)

AFL chief executive Andrew Demetriou has threatened to strip Etihad Stadium of high-drawing games next year after failing in his attempt to move the round 14 clash between St Kilda and Geelong.

The AFL wanted to shift the July 5 clash - a St Kilda home game - from Etihad Stadium, which has a capacity of 53,000, to the MCG, which can cater for just over 100,000 fans.

Thousands of Saints and Cats fans won't get the chance to watch the two pacesetters - both unbeaten entering round 10 because it will be held at the smaller stadium.

In a further blow to fans, the Seven Network is won't promise to televise the game live, even if it is sold out.

AFL chief operating officer Gillon McLachlan said the financial costs to the clubs and the logistical difficulties were too difficult to overcome.

Had the game been switched to the MCG, another match would have been moved to Etihad Stadium as compensation. The MCG will be vacant on July 5.

In a sign of the deteriorating relationship between the league and one of its venues, Demetriou claimed the management at Etihad Stadium threatened legal action against the AFL if the game were moved.

"We had the threat of being sued by Etihad Stadium for compensation, the whole lot, and at the end of the day we've decided to leave the game where it is," Demetriou said.

"I'm sure it will suit St Kilda and their reserved seat holders and probably the people who will miss out the most will be the MCC (Melbourne Cricket Club) members who won't get to see the game.

"But hopefully we'll get a good sell-out at Etihad Stadium, but it just shows how frustrating it can be."

A spokesman for Etihad Stadium rejected Demetriou's claims and said the threat of legal action was "not true".

He said the venue's chief executive Ian Collins had stressed to the AFL the obligation for the game to be played at the Docklands under the contract with the league.

"But we did not issue a threat to sue, that's not true," the spokesman said.

The AFL is locked in a dispute with the management of Melbourne's two venues over the financial deals the stadia have with clubs, which the league claims are unfair.

Demetriou indicated the league was tired of its disagreement with Etihad Stadium management and said it was "probably" time for the AFL to schedule more high-drawing blockbusters at the MCG, from 2010 onwards.

"We'll continue to fight for what's right for our clubs, we'll continue to try to have dialogue with both the MCC and Etihad Stadium management," he said.

"But it needs to be resolved, it's not pleasant and our clubs are becoming very frustrated."

Demetriou admitted there were St Kilda fans who did not want the game moved, as they had reserved seats for home games at the roofed venue.

Saints coach Ross Lyon said on Friday he had not given any thought to having the game moved, but Geelong coach Mark Thompson said on Wednesday he wanted whatever was best for fans.

Seven televises Sunday games on delay, but has the option of screening matches live if they are sold out.

The network is expected to make a decision next week.

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