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AFL refuses to rule out twilight decider

THE AFL has again left the door ajar to a twilight grand final, with chief executive Andrew Demetriou hinting yesterday that the prospect could return to the negotiating table, but suggesting the move would come at a price in terms of Channel Seven's current five-year contract.

Demetriou confirmed last night the prospect of a twilight grand final had been raised again by club presidents on Monday, with no significant opposition and plenty of support.

He playfully told Collingwood president Eddie McGuire, who again raised the topic at yesterday's traditional grand final week Carbine Club function: ''You never know your luck in a big city.''

Demetriou pointed out that Saturday's twilight preliminary final between Hawthorn and Adelaide had increased Seven's audience by an estimated one million viewers and agreed the timeslot had been well received by the community and, specifically, families.

His comments at yesterday's function were made in the presence of AFL Commission chairman Mike Fitzpatrick, who is not a traditionalist in this area, and followed an informal conversation on the topic at the Brownlow Medal count with the Seven Network's Victorian chief and football lieutenant Lewis Martin.

The grand final is exclusive to Seven until 2016 and in the current contract is specified as an afternoon broadcast. A move to an NRL-style 5pm start would require a renegotiation.

When asked whether a day-night grand final would come at an extra financial cost to the network, Demetriou told The Age: ''I would think so.'' But added: ''We have not agreed to anything.''

AFL broadcasters have never made a secret of their preference for a night or twilight game.

''We have never had a serious conversation about it,'' Martin said last night. ''It is true what we focus on as a network is our viewing audience and we would love to take the game to more people.''

The Hawthorn-Sydney grand final will start at 2.30pm, with Sunday's NRL grand final between Melbourne Storm and the Canterbury Bulldogs kicking off in the twilight timeslot of 5pm.

The NRL final, televised by the Nine Network, should provide an intriguing ratings comparison between the two codes. The NRL's contract with Nine is more flexible on the subject of its grand final kick-off time.

The prospect of an AFL twilight grand final was first put to the AFL Commission in 2007 following a submission from then broadcast partner Channel Ten, which Demetriou described at the time as ''an impressive, well-argued document … very respectful towards the grand final and all it stands for''.

A steadfast opponent of a night grand final, Demetriou has never ruled out moving the last game of the year to a post-5pm start.

In 2007, Ten pushed for a 5pm start and proposed shifting the traditional North Melbourne breakfast to a lunch, with grand final replays starting at 8am or 9am, and including a more detailed post-mortem of the game, along with crosses to the winner's and loser's dinners.

The commission rejected the proposal.

63 comments

  • Carro, another great story.

    I'm happy for a twilight granny, as long as the A.F.L. schedule a few more day games during the season! I have 3 small kids, (9, 7 & 5) and we love going to the footy at the G, but night games are out and day games are fewer and fewer.

    C;mon Andrew, don't klll the goose that laid the golden egg just to appease the TV networks.

    We don't want a game like thugby league, which people just watch on TV...

    Commenter
    cmpmal
    Location
    Ashwood
    Date and time
    September 26, 2012, 12:06AM
    • cmpmal, you make a very reasoned statement in your post and then completely blow it by referring to a different sport, I'm guessing one you don't choose to follow, but one that plenty of others do, by a stupid and condescending name. I don't know you, but I really want to believe that you're better than that.

      Commenter
      Peter
      Location
      The Outer
      Date and time
      September 26, 2012, 12:56AM
    • @ Peter -hardly anyone follows rugby, so it's a fair point to make that the sport is rubbish. And violent. And family-unfriendly,

      So keep supporting thugby while I'll keep taking my family to the footy.

      Commenter
      Dave
      Location
      Western Suburbs
      Date and time
      September 26, 2012, 10:33AM
    • A twilight game will make all of the make all of the Grand Final Breakfasts very LONG affairs...

      Commenter
      Dan
      Location
      Tokyo
      Date and time
      September 26, 2012, 12:06PM
    • How old is granny or didn't your teacher teach you to spell or speak correct Englishy.

      Commenter
      Bill
      Date and time
      September 26, 2012, 1:26PM
    • Twlight grand final, I will not remember the game. Stupid idea. What about all the GF day bbq's, what do you start them at 3:30pm, so we are all supposed to have a late lunch? And the players, what they have to sit around and try not to use up nervous energy?

      Commenter
      GT
      Location
      Melbourne
      Date and time
      September 26, 2012, 1:33PM
    • Dave - Your naivety is astounding. I understand that you personally don't like the game and you are entitled to your view, but to say that 'hardly anyone follows rugby' just a few weeks after the NRL signed a billion dollar broadcasting deal is ridiculous. My original point to cmpmal was to question whether we are really so immature that we have to belittle another sport simply because we personally don't like they way it is played. Surely a more mature approach would be to recognize that while people will have preferences, in the end all sports, particularly those that get kids up and moving, are good.

      Commenter
      Peter
      Location
      The Outer
      Date and time
      September 26, 2012, 3:50PM
  • As a person living in Europe, I'm craving a nighttime grand final - getting up at 5 in the morning (or not going to bed!) is difficult, but having it on at 11am or 12 noon CET would be fantastic.

    I really don't understand their reticence, since every other major sport has night finals, yet the AFL still apparently lives in the 1950s...

    Commenter
    Dutch Courage
    Location
    The Netherlands
    Date and time
    September 26, 2012, 12:09AM
    • yeah!! lets change it all for the guy on the other side of the world. as well as just going mainstream and not keeping our game unique!!

      Commenter
      rohan
      Location
      thepearl
      Date and time
      September 26, 2012, 12:19AM
    • The English FA Cup's still on in the arvo, right?

      Commenter
      Graham
      Date and time
      September 26, 2012, 12:26AM

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