2014 Toyota AFL Grand Final Entertainment

This year’s Toyota AFL Grand Final will see two of the world’s biggest recording artists provide pre and post-match entertainment for football fans of all generations.

The AFL today confirmed that the 2014 Virgin Australia Pre-Game Show at this year’s Grand Final at the MCG on Saturday, September 27 would be headlined by two global superstars - chart topper Ed Sheeran and legendary singer Sir Tom Jones.

Both artists will perform a number of hits in the lead up to the biggest game of the year.

English singer Ed Sheeran is currently one of the most sought after artists in the world having taken the music scene by storm three years ago. His first album entered the international charts at number one before going platinum several times over, and his most recent album continues to sit atop music charts everywhere.

As a celebrated singer across rock, pop, blues and soul, Tom Jones is one of music’s most enduring figures enjoying a career that has spanned five decades. Having sold more than 100 million albums worldwide, he continues to add to his unmatched legacy as an iconic performer across several generations.

Both artists are coming to Australia specifically to play the special one-off performance at the AFL Grand Final.

The invitation to perform at the biggest Australian sporting event of the year was too good to refuse according to Ed Sheeran: “Having spent some time in Australia recently I know just how popular the game is and how big an event this will be.

“It wasn’t a hard decision to agree to perform on such a big stage for the biggest sport in Australia. I’m excited to play in front of so many people with someone as iconic as Sir Tom and I’m also really looking forward to seeing what will be an amazing game.”

Sir Tom Jones said he was thrilled at the chance to perform in front of a packed MCG crowd on the last Saturday in September.

“I understand there will be over 100,000 people in the stadium for the Grand Final which makes this spectacular sporting event something I’m really looking forward to,” Sir Tom said.

“I also know that Australian football has really passionate fans so it’ll be great to be a part of the atmosphere and excitement on the day.”

In addition to the Virgin Australia Pre-Game Show, Australian singer Olivia Newton-John will perform the national anthem immediately before this year’s Grand Final. Newton-John has agreed to be a part of the pre-match build up at the MCG while the AFL is proud to support the Olivia Newton-John Cancer and Wellness Centre at the Austin Hospital in Melbourne.

Australian singer/songwriter Mike Brady will also perform in the lead up to the national anthem. Brady will perform a new version of his popular anthem ‘Up there Cazaly’, a former best-selling Australian single that remains intrinsically linked to Australian football some 35 years after its 1979 release.

While 100,000 fans will witness the Virgin Australia Pre-Game Show live on Grand Final day, those fans without Grand Final tickets will have the chance to enjoy an encore performance on the hallowed turf of the MCG immediately after the Grand Final.

Ed Sheeran and Sir Tom Jones will play at the Virgin Australia Premiership Party, the free fan event that sees the MCG open its gates to the public following the conclusion of the Grand Final each year. The free encore performance by the Grand Final entertainment is followed by the 2014 AFL Premiers being presented to fans for the first time.

AFL Chief Executive Officer Gillon McLachlan said the AFL had deliberately engaged artists that that would cater to football fans across generations.

“I’m pleased to say that this year’s Grand Final entertainment will have something for everyone,” Mr McLachlan said.

“To have two iconic international stars perform at the Grand Final is befitting the biggest event on the national sporting calendar.  Sir Tom Jones’ record as one of the greatest and most enduring singers ever speaks for itself while Ed Sheeran is arguably the hottest property in music today.

“The AFL Finals series is for the fans, the Grand Final is the pinnacle of the AFL competition and as such we want it to touch as many people as possible. In addition to putting a freeze on this year’s finals ticket prices, we have ensured the entertainment on Grand Final day will resonate with a wide spectrum of our fans.”

Virgin Australia General Manager, Marketing Communications, Michael Scott said: “We are proud to be the official airline of Australia’s most popular sport and are excited to be supporting the Finals Series with a range of unique initiatives.

“We look forward to sharing the excitement of the finals season with the AFL and their fans, and providing the best possible travel experience for those flying in for these important games,” Mr Scott said.

Michael Gudinski, producer of AFL Grand Final entertainment, said: “We have managed to secure not one, but two International artists this year, both with a string of hits - it’s a great combination of music for all generations.

“Sir Tom Jones has been entertaining audiences since the early sixties, with 17 number one singles to his name, more than 100 million albums sales and countless sold-out tours.  He is a true music icon.

“Ed Sheeran, in comparison, is a newcomer but he’s making big waves in the music business, with two number one albums already under his belt in just three years. He is one of the brightest stars on the music scene at the moment.”

The 2014 Grand Final entertainment has been moved from half-time to pre-game to extend the time allotted for entertainment. The Virgin Australia Pre-Game Show will run in the lead up to the centre bounce while half-time will now be devoted to the best NAB AFL Auskickers in the country and the Grand Final sprint.

This year’s Grand Final will once again see an array of activities throughout the day involving various members of the Australian football community, including former AFL legends and retiring players along with a host of other football identities.

The Premiership Party was first introduced in 2012 as an unprecedented fan event that will this year seethe MCG open its gates to the public at 6pm, following the conclusion of the 2014 AFL Grand Final, for the chance to enjoy a free encore performance by Ed Sheeran and Tom Jones in the lead-up to a special presentation of the newly crowned 2014 AFL Premiers.