The preliminary final will begin in waning daylight... Photo: Paul Rovere
THE AFL has brought forward Hawthorn's preliminary final on Saturday week from night to twilight, with the match to kick off at the MCG at 5.15pm.
In a compromise cautiously supported by the Hawks and after consultation with the Seven Network, the AFL has also contacted Fremantle and Adelaide to assure those clubs that flights home will be available after the game.
Hawthorn, as ladder leader after the home-and-away season, had won the right to an eight-day break before the grand final should it win its way through.
... and finish in prime time. Photo: Paul Rovere
But a scheduling clash with Sydney's ANZ Stadium - unavailable because it is required for an NRL final - has forced the league to play the Swans' preliminary final on the Friday night.
Hawks chief executive Stuart Fox had urged the AFL to bring the game forward to the afternoon.
Fox said yesterday that the decision, while not the club's first choice, was an acceptable compromise. ''We're happy with it and obviously getting ready for it,'' he said.
The winner of Friday night's Adelaide-Fremantle clash will meet the Hawks. A night-time preliminary final would have meant that should Fremantle or Adelaide defeat the Hawks, those respective clubs could not have returned home until Sunday, putting them at a significant disadvantage in the grand final.