Saints, Dockers opener
The AFL’s fixturing team has responded to Ross Lyon’s move to Fremantle by attempting to move the Dockers’ 2012 round one clash against St Kilda from Perth to Melbourne.
AFL senior executive Gillon McLachlan confirmed the league had coincidentally fixtured Lyon’s old club against his new side in its draft plans for the opening round of next season but that it would now work to shift the game from Subiaco to Etihad Stadium.
”In my view, you need to have the game in Melbourne,” McLachlan told The Age.
”Given the circumstances, it means an attendance of 35,000 becomes 45,000.
”For Ross Lyon to come back to Melbourne to coach against St Kilda would make it a pretty big game.”
McLachlan said the St Kilda-Fremantle round one clash had come about ”by pure coincidence”.
”When the news came out last week, [AFL fixturing boss] Simon Lethlean sent me a message saying he was going to photograph his draft list of games for round one,” he said.
The game would prove a financial fillip for St Kilda given its struggle to make a profit from games at Etihad Stadium.
The AFL has a history of scheduling emotionally-charged games on big occasions – notably Geelong’s two clashes against the Gary Ablett-led Gold Coast in 2011 and the Brisbane Lions playing Carlton twice in 2010 when Brendan Fevola was traded to the Lions in a blaze of controversy.
McLachlan also indicated the Carlton-Richmond Thursday night season-opener was likely to remain in 2012, despite pushes from other clubs and elsewhere within the AFL to promote a more competitive match-up to start the new season.
”It’s a good franchise and I don’t see any reason to get rid of it just for the sake of it. It hasn’t been the greatest contest in the past but that will come with time,” he said.
McLachlan said no decision had been reached on a push by Greater Western Sydney to open the 2012 season with a stand-alone clash at ANZ Stadium during the traditionally football-free weekend following the NAB Cup grand final.