THE AFL, Melbourne Football Club and the NSW Government are pleased to confirm the Round 13, Queen's Birthday match between Melbourne and Collingwood has been moved to Sydney.
‘Play On’ with Big Freeze, now in its seventh season, will be hoping to see a crowd full of blue beanies at the SCG, shining a light on Neale Daniher and his fight against motor neurone disease.
Daniher and the FightMND team have led the way in raising funds and awareness, committing more than $45 million to research initiatives.
The match remains scheduled for Monday June 14 at 3:20pm AEST.
As the Victorian community continues to navigate through the current COVID situation in the state, the call was made to move the match to ensure it would be played in front of fans, a decision made in conjunction with the Melbourne Football Club, the Victorian Government, FightMND, the NSW government and Venues NSW.
The Big Freeze slide will remain at the MCG with details on further activations at iconic Sydney locations to be communicated next week.
AFL Executive General Manager Clubs and Broadcasting Travis Auld said although it was disappointing not to host the annual event at the MCG, it was great to be able to take a marquee match of the fixture to NSW.
"Out of adversity come some silver linings and this is a great opportunity for not only the AFL to showcase a marquee game into the Sydney market, but for FightMND to further shine a light on Neale Daniher’s inspirational fight against motor neurone disease," Mr Auld said.
"On behalf of the AFL, I would like to thank both Melbourne and Collingwood, the NSW Government for welcoming us to Sydney, Bec Daniher and the FightMND organisation and our broadcast partner Channel 7.
"To all the footy fans in Victoria, we will continue to work closely with the Victorian Government on when we can get matches back in front of you in the coming rounds."
NSW Minister for Jobs, Investment, Tourism and Western Sydney Stuart Ayres said Sydney would be a perfect backdrop for this significant AFL fixture.
"The NSW Government is excited to partner with the AFL to host this important match at the SCG and to bring a distinct Sydney style to the Big Freeze in 2021. We have demonstrated our ability to deliver COVID-safe major events, and we look forward to welcoming AFL fans to the Harbour City to enjoy a long-weekend of football and festivities."
Melbourne Football Club CEO Gary Pert said:
"The Big Freeze is an incredibly important match on the football calendar and a crucial element in the fight against the beast that is MND.
"One of the elements that makes the game such a blockbuster is the crowd that it draws each year, so it was important that we explored all options to ensure that energy around the game continued.
"We are pleased that by moving the game to the SCG people will have the opportunity to experience the Big Freeze match and hopefully our interstate members and fans can get along to support us."
Quotes attributable to FightMND Campaign Director Rebecca Daniher:
"While the football action may be interstate, we are very pleased to announce that in line with our Patron Neale Daniher’s mantra of “Play On” our largest fundraising event “The Big Freeze” will take place at the MCG on its traditional Queens Birthday Monday.
"We are enormously privileged to have our famous ice-slide as part of the Queen’s Birthday round of football. We wish both Melbourne and Collingwood the best for their match in Sydney and look forward to seeing them back at the ‘G in 2022 for Big Freeze 8.
"The match in Sydney allows an opportunity for our FightMND Army in New South Wales to see the teams in action, and we urge them to take this rare opportunity to get along to support two of our Big Freeze partners.
"MND doesn't take a break, and the fight to 'beat the beast' never stops. We will continue our fight to find more effective treatments, and ultimately a cure for Motor Neurone Disease."
Tickets will go on sale early next week with times to be communicated shortly.
The AFL will confirm the remaining matches of Round 13 of the Toyota Premiership Season in the coming days.