AFL 2021: Who gets in to watch football in round one?
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The AFL is looking at a scenario in which there will be very little or no general admission to games for round one in Victoria.
Under the ticketing arrangements under discussion by clubs and the AFL, the members of home teams will be prioritised, then the “away” club’s members, and stadium members – such as MCC and AFL members – with general admission tickets only available once those other groups have had windows to gain seats.
Richmond CEO Brendon Gale.Credit:Getty Images
Sources with a knowledge of discussions say that the carve-up of tickets for the blockbuster Richmond-Carlton season opener is expected to follow a formula in which the MCC and AFL members’ areas would be allowed the same percentage of seats as the rest of the ground, which would be almost entirely filled by club members.
If, for instance, the Victorian government allowed for first-round games to be at 50 per cent capacity for both the MCG and Marvel Stadium, then the Richmond-Carlton game would likely be broken down as follows: the MCC (capacity 22,700) would have a little over 11,000, the AFL members’ area (22,000), would be about 11,000, and there would be an estimated 2000 corporate tickets.
The balance of the about 50,000 – 25,000-26,000 – allowed into the MCG would be given to the clubs’ members, with Richmond having the overwhelming share because the Tigers are the home team.
In the case of Richmond v Carlton, this could well mean there are no tickets available to non-members.
The Tigers are considering holding off the unfurling of their last two premiership flags because of COVID restrictions on the crowds.
Richmond CEO Brendon Gale said he wanted as many Richmond fans as possible at the ground to enjoy the unfurling of two flags.
“We’d like to think there’d be a lot,” Gale told 3AW Sportsday.
“Clearly it’s a really proud moment and we want to share that with as many members and fans as possible.″
After the opening game against Carlton, Richmond play an away game against Hawthorn in round two, before hosting Sydney at the MCG in round three.
“We’re hoping for 50 per cent capacity. That would lend itself to a fairly sizeable crowd, so we are planning along those lines but I’m not sure that’s going to be the case,” Gale said.
“We just need to watch and wait. We want to share this moment with as much of the Richmond family as possible. It may be round one possibly, but it may not.″
The same ticketing arrangement as for the opening game is expected to apply to Collingwood v Western Bulldogs, although there will be much less demand for that game than Richmond v Carlton, which is the first game that fans of those clubs have been able to attend (not counting AFLW games) in Melbourne since 2019, the first game for the Tiger army since both their 2019 and 2020 premierships due to the coronavirus-interrupted 2020 season.
It would apply to Essendon v Hawthorn at Marvel Stadium, which would have a much smaller crowd if the government mandates just 50 per cent capacity. The AFL is at pains to avoid banking on any percentage of capacity, knowing that it could change abruptly.
Club sources at Victorian teams said the best way to understand the ticketing arrangements for reduced capacity – whatever percentage the state government permitted – was to consider it like the way finals tickets are sold and divvied up, with club members having first crack, along with stadium members; the MCC, clearly, has many more stadium members, in the form of the MCC reserve, than Marvel, with AFL members allowed in to both stadia.
But the critical difference with finals is that the home team’s members will be given far more access than the “away” team – even a Victorian club that is “away”. In finals, there is no difference between home and away members’ rights.
The clubs and AFL, though, want to ensure that members who buy memberships that include “away” games in Victoria – a 16-game membership, for instance – will be given access, although there are fewer in that category.
“Full” members who purchase tickets for 11-plus games will be given priority over those who buy memberships for three or fewer games; clubs say the 11-game members are typically fewer than half of most clubs’ membership tallies.
The AFL had been hoping that 75 per cent of capacity would be achieved in Melbourne for the early rounds, a less likely scenario given that the current rules permit only up to 10,000 to attend any sporting event (such as the tennis or AFLW).
In Queensland, where the Brisbane Lions will play Sydney at the Gabba in round one, the government has allowed 100 per cent capacity. In South Australia, which will host Adelaide v Geelong, the percentage is 75 per cent, the same as NSW (GWS v St Kilda) while Perth’s Optus Stadium, on present rules, is allowed only 65 per cent for West Coast and Fremantle in a 60,000- capacity stadium.
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