The Grand Final is set to be moved to a twilight slot, with the showpiece event of the season to begin at 4.30pm this year.
A formal announcement could come as early as Friday, after an AFL Commission discussed the issue on Wednesday, according to .
The decision would come just days after outgoing chief executive Gillon McLachlan said a 4.30pm start would be the ‘best presentation of the game’.
The AFL Grand Final last started in the traditional 2:30pm slot back in 2019 (above)
Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Grand Final was played in Perth last year and began at 5:15pm local time — 7:15pm on the east coast.
Figures showed the game, laman which was broadcast on Channel 7, drew 3.9million viewers nationally and 3.05million in capital cities.
The figures were 33 percent higher of those recorded in 2019, when Melbourne last hosted the Grand Final and the game started in its traditional 2:30pm slot.
The event was held in Brisbane the following years because of the Covid-19 pandemic and started at 6:30pm.
AFL boss Gillon McLachlan is a supporter of the 4:30pm slot for the showpiece event
McLachlan said that while he respected the views of those eager to keep the start time in its traditional slot, pushing it back by two hours would allow the AFL the chance to present the event as it has done for the past two years.
Specifically, that means the halftime entertainment can commence as dusk sets, while leaving plenty of time for a formal trophy presentation at the end of the game.
‘A lot of people like the tradition of 2.30pm. So that is the harder discussion,’ he said.
‘But I want to acknowledge to all of our supporters, we understand that a lot of people don’t want it to change.
‘But also when you look at how it has been presented the last couple of years, there’s also a lot of people who really like the twilight and think it presents well.’
The Grand Final began at 5:15pm in Perth last season, 7:15pm in the eastern states
First bounce was at 6:30pm when the Grand Final was held in Brisbane in 2020
Former Collingwood boss Eddie McGuire is among those who have vocally supported the move to a later timeslot.
‘If it’s two hours difference and it makes you get two to two and a half million more people in the areas that we’ve spent $100 million to try and get people to watch, why would we put it on at night if we’re trying to get Queensland to build the game?,’ he said during a heated debate on Nine’s Footy Classified.
‘In the No1 and No3 markets in Australia, why would we make it as hard as possible? It’s called «prime time» for a reason.’
Former Collingwood boss Eddie McGuire claims the AFL could lose up to $50million in TV revenue if it does not permanently move to the game to a twilight slot
Not everyone, however, agrees with McLachlan and McGuire. Richmond president Peggy O’Neal said last week she saw no reason why the AFL would change the Grand Final start time.
‘There are a lot of other things that go on after the game and a lot of other traditions that would be broken, besides the fact it is a long day when we had the night grand final,’ she told The Herald Sun.
‘There is a lot of lead-up time and afterwards not so much time to celebrate, so unless there is a good reason to move it, I don’t see why we would move it, and it will be back at the MCG this year and it would be nice if we were taking part in it again.’