THE AFL will determine early next month if this year's Toyota AFL Grand Final is to be played for the first time at the MCG in a twilight timeslot.

The past two Grand Finals have been played at Brisbane's Gabba (2020, a night game) and Perth's Optus Stadium (last season, twilight) due to COVID-19 forcing matches out of Victoria. believes strong consideration is being given to breaking MCG Grand Final tradition in 2022, and while there is no prospect of the game being fixtured to begin at night, a twilight start time is being deeply considered.

MCG Grand Finals have regularly started at about 2.30pm. A twilight Grand Final would have first bounce down at about 4.30pm.

AFL chief Gillon McLachlan outside Marvel Stadium for a media conference on February 28, 2022. Picture: Getty Images

AFL chief executive Gillon McLachlan refused to forecast the outcome of deliberations.

"I can't comment, it has to go to the Commission at the next meeting (in April), and we will have a decision beyond that meeting," McLachlan told

"We just haven't had the opportunity to talk about it and put a recommendation to the board, but we won't dwell on it, we will get on with it."

In a wide ranging interview, McLachlan also:

  • Revealed that August would be the month by which the Tasmanian licence would be determined;
  • Said the League's preference is for the next AFLW season to begin in the pre-finals bye weekend of the men's season, and that a complete round of AFLW could be fixtured in Victoria on the public holiday Friday before the men's Grand Final;
  • Said at this stage there would be no mandate for players to receive booster shots for COVID-19;
  • Was adamant he was not considering departing the AFL chief executive post he has held since 2014, and that "I look at this year and feel the energy of a season with a level of certainty";
  • Claimed his raising in a meeting with club presidents during the week the prospect of a 23rd round of football in a home and away season was "rhetorical" only, and not locked-in policy;
  • Said the troubled Gold Coast Suns "need to start winning games to fulfil their potential".

McLachlan explained the process around the Tasmanian pitch for an AFL licence.

"I think the commitment and the boldness being shown by the state government, and I'm optimistic it has bipartisan support, is making people pay attention - when you're tabling indoor stadiums, and being bold about funding commitments and solving problems, as each problem gets solved, or looks like being solved, the chances increase," McLachlan said.

"I am not going to comment on percentages, and it could go either way but the conversation is real. Whatever decision is made, it needs to be owned by the industry, by the commission and the clubs. You may not get total consensus, but there has to be a room of presidents and the commission who want it."

A TASMANIAN TEAM? AFL execs to work with Tassie government on club licence decision

The AFL commission will formally put a proposal relating to the Tasmanian bid to the club presidents in August, and McLachlan said the AFL constitution states that from that point, two thirds of the presidents would need to oppose that proposal in order to stop it.

"My point is, and that is the technical answer, but substantively, expansion is a huge industry decision that needs to be owned by the presidents and if it is getting down to votes, it needs to be a decision that is good for football," he said.

Hawthorn and Fremantle clashed at UTAS Stadium in round 17, 2019. Picture: AFL Photos

"My commitment to the clubs is we will engage them regularly, we will keep them abreast of everything, and make sure the deal delivers for Tasmania but from their perspective, delivers for football and won't be a financial drag and is given every chance to be a successful, living, breeding club in our competition and that it is additive."

Decisions about the timing of AFL entry for a Tasmanian outfit and actual number of AFL club licences were yet to be formulated, but 2028 has been identified as a possible start date.

"(19 licences) is doable, it's just the fixturing looks different, 20 (licences) has benefits, 18 has a different look, and 19 is doable," McLachlan said. "It is rather than one being better than the other, it is understanding the benefits and differences and what you get out of each.

"There has been no discussion about a 20th. The theory of it will be discussed, and the Northern Territory has tabled interest, people have talked about north Queensland.

"There are no contemplations at the moment for a reduction in teams. The bid as it is currently being looked at by the Tasmanians is that it is for an additional licence. That process will play, there will be a decision made, and then we will see where we land.

"If there was a team in Tasmania, under a 22-round system, it would bring another 11 games into the competition. That can be fixtured, and they add value. It is a real number. It is not worth nothing. That is obviously part of the discussion being had in terms of the business case for the licence."

Nick Larkey lines up for goal against Geelong at Blundstone Arena on July 31, 2021. Picture: AFL Photos

Of the new timings around AFLW seasons, McLachlan said:

"(August start time) is our emerging preference, the Commission has signed off on that in theory, which gives us the licence to talk to players, clubs, broadcasters, and make sure we can deliver an upside and not a downside.

ON THE MOVE? Earlier season start on AFLW's agenda

"There are probably eight or 10 benefits. The biggest of those is we think you get a huge kickstart coming out of men's, a clean-air bye weekend before the (men's) finals. So, they would start in that bye weekend, and you'd have a huge momentum coming into that, then we think we can play during the finals series and we could have double headers and work around our finals series. As the season rolls into the second half you get all that clean air, standalone, in great venues.

"(Men's) Grand Final day, and this is a bit tactical, we've got a public holiday the day before, maybe we schedule all AFLW games on the Friday, around Melbourne, so we think all those things are of benefit."