RICHMOND'S bid for a venue shift later this month, which would upstage Geelong's premiership flag celebrations, has received a lukewarm response from both the Cats and the AFL.
The Tigers late yesterday officially requested their round-four Sunday afternoon Simonds Stadium clash against the reigning premier be moved to the vacant Etihad Stadium given 25,000 fans could potentially be locked out of the smaller regional ground.
But Geelong has scorned the attempted game switch, pointing to the long-planned unfurling of its 2011 premiership flag that day and its contractual obligation to play a minimum seven games at the Kardinia Park stadium, which is being rebuilt and can fit only about 26,500 fans. Etihad's capacity is close to double that.
Tigers chief executive Brendon Gale confirmed he had unofficially approached AFL fixture bosses Gillon McLachlan and Simon Lethlean last week arguing that the Tigers' fans deserved a bigger ground for such a big game. Richmond's membership is close to 47,000.
Gale held talks with Geelong CEO Brian Cook yesterday only to be told the Cats had no intention of moving the game given their contract with local and state governments to stage seven games at Simonds and the plans that had already gone into the club's first local game for 2012 and the flag unfurling.
Gale told The Age yesterday he had pushed ahead with the bid to - at the least - sow a seed in the minds of those designing the fixture that the Tigers' strong supporter base should not be squeezed into the Geelong ground.
Of the Victorian clubs, only Richmond, Melbourne and the Western Bulldogs will make the trip to Geelong this season and the Tigers yesterday questioned why clubs such as Carlton and Essendon - which have fewer members - were not fixtured to play at Simonds.
''This is something we'll be pushing for,'' Gale said last night. ''You just wonder whether we should be fixtured down there in future and it's certainly worth making a case for this year.''
McLachlan said he had some sympathy for Richmond, but pointed to the reality that the Cats were bound to host at least seven games at home. ''You have Geelong hosting Collingwood, Hawthorn, St Kilda and Essendon away from Simonds and Richmond are saying, 'Why us?' I'd say at this stage though it's just too difficult.''
Gale said: ''I've got a responsibility on behalf of our members to push to get them into venues where as few as possible miss out. One of the guiding principles of the AFL fixture is to maximise attendances and we've got a situation here where 20,000 to 25,000 of our members are going to miss experiencing the game live.
''Etihad Stadium is vacant on the day in question and we're talking about a ground with double the current capacity of Simonds. For all those reasons we've requested the shift.''
The AFL has never shown an inclination to move games to accommodate bigger crowds claiming that stadium contractual obligations must override crowd concerns and occasional lockouts. The last time a match was switched was more than a decade ago when Etihad Stadium's surface was deemed unplayable and a game was moved to the MCG.