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AFL puts fans ahead of money as this year's grand final is confirmed for a 2.30pm start – despite push to hold twilight game to drive ratings up

  • The 2022 AFL grand final return to Melbourne will kick off at 2.30pm
  • The AFL were tossing up a later 4.30pm fixture to boost television ratings
  • 2020 final was played in Brisbane and moved to Perth in 2021 amid Covid chaos 

By Anna Harrington For Australian Associated Press and Shayne Hope For Australian Associated Press

Published: 23:11 EDT, 19 May 2022 | Updated: 23:11 EDT, 19 May 2022

The first AFL grand final in Melbourne in three years will remain in the traditional afternoon timeslot, with fan sentiment again winning out over the commercial push for a twilight start.

The 2022 decider, to be held at the MCG on September 24, will begin at 2.30pm, as per tradition.

The league had been weighing up the benefits of a twilight fixture, starting at 4.30pm.

Melbourne Demons coach Simon Goodwin hoists the 2021 premiership trophy at Perth's Optus Stadium - the game kicked off at 7.15pm AEST to boost national television ratings

Melbourne Demons coach Simon Goodwin hoists the 2021 premiership trophy at Perth's Optus Stadium - the game kicked off at 7.15pm AEST to boost national television ratings

AFL chief executive Gillon McLachlan had ruled out a night grand final, although he was regarded as a supporter of the twilight slot.

Significantly increased television ratings over the last two years, especially in last year's decider in Perth, was another issue taken into account when considering a time shift.

Tigers forward Dustin Martin pictured celebrating Richmond's 2020 grand final win over Geelong - a match that was played under lights at the Gabba in Brisbane

Tigers forward Dustin Martin pictured celebrating Richmond's 2020 grand final win over Geelong - a match that was played under lights at the Gabba in Brisbane

But fan sentiment had clearly favoured keeping the grand final in its traditional afternoon time-slot.

'Prior to the start of this season, we emphasised that after two really challenging years, we all yearned to return to the footy rituals and routines that set the rhythms of our lives, to continue to focus on getting back to football and going to football as we know it,' McLachlan said in a statement.

'That return-to-rituals principle underpinned our decision making in ratifying a traditional start time - the prestige, nostalgia and atmosphere of the day grand final is something we all know and love.'

A decision was made at Wednesday's AFL Commission meeting but the call had been a tightly-held secret this week.

The MCG was empty in 2020 as the AFL grand final moved to Brisbane while Covid chaos hit Victoria - in 2019 it hosted 100,000 fans for the Tigers' win over GWS

The MCG was empty in 2020 as the AFL grand final moved to Brisbane while Covid chaos hit Victoria - in 2019 it hosted 100,000 fans for the Tigers' win over GWS

Officials did not want to overshadow the announcement of the new AFLW pay deal, details of which were confirmed by the league on Thursday.

The premiership decider will return to the MCG this year after being played in Perth last season and Brisbane the year prior because of COVID-19 impacts.

The 2020 finale at the Gabba started at 6.30pm local time and last year's Optus Stadium playoff began at 5.15pm local time (7.15 pm AEST).


Source: Google News