The AFL wishes to detail its position for the public record today after media reports regarding the possible venue for the 2015 A League Grand Final, should Melbourne Victory qualify to host the final in Victoria.
AFL General Manager Broadcasting, Scheduling and Major Projects Simon Lethlean – the AFL Executive responsible for the production of the AFL fixture – said the AFL had been contacted by both Etihad Stadium and the Melbourne Victory at the start of its fixture production process in July and August respectively this year to request the AFL consider the availability of Etihad Stadium for Sunday May 10, 2015.
The AFL accommodated the possibility of that request for the weekend of May 8-10 by scheduling only two matches at Etihad Stadium across that round, while separately also delivering on a request from the Victorian Government for the MCG to be kept free on a consecutive Friday, Saturday and Friday in mid-July for a visit by leading European soccer teams.
In the following two months, while the AFL dealt with its annual fixture requests and contractual requirements across its 18 clubs, broadcast agreements, various state governments, venues across Australia, other sports and its own preferred outcomes for the 2015 Toyota AFL Premiership Season fixture, there was no further communication received from Etihad Stadium or the Melbourne Victory, and no communication received at any time from the FFA through this period in July / August / September.
On October 16, the Victorian state government advised the AFL the A League Grand Final could be played on May 17, 2015, and the AFL was formally contacted by the FFA on October 21 to enquire whether it could keep this May 17 date free at Etihad Stadium.
Mr Lethlean said the AFL had advised the FFA last week it could not restructure its fixture at that late stage, as five matches had been confirmed in Victoria for that weekend and the AFL was now in the process only of confirming match timeslots for each game with its broadcast partners and clubs. The AFL advised it could not alter the number of matches per round in Victoria at that late stage because the AFL had less flexibility around its 2015 fixture due to a later start to the season, caused by the Cricket World Cup, as well as the fact that all clubs now have only one bye through the season, compared to two byes through 2014.
Etihad Stadium Management today confirmed to the AFL that no updated request for a date change had been put forward to the AFL from their offices.