Coach breaks silence on awkward AFL rejection

Chris Scott hopes the AFL can explain its “ethical framework” should the Cats finish in the top two this season but miss the chance to host a home final in Geelong.

The coach’s plea to the league comes after the Cats requested their home game at the MCG this weekend be moved to GMHBA Stadium in Geelong amid Melbourne’s Covid outbreak.

The AFL denied the request, meaning the game against Richmond would go ahead without crowds at the MCG this Sunday.

The Tigers will be the away team for the clash despite having played six of their nine home games at the MCG so far this season.

The decision left AFL pundits scratching their heads during the week.

“There’s no reason why we can’t allow (the venue change) to happen. Can you tell me why it’s such an issue?” Hawks legend Jason Dunstall asked on AFL 360 this week.

“It can’t be that hard!”

Jason Dunstall is perplexed as to why the Geelong v Richmond clash is at the MCG and not at GMHBA Stadium.

Tune into #AFL360 on Ch 504 or stream on @kayosportspic.twitter.com/TuyKTOKfSl

Cats will be decidedly cranky the AFL has knocked back their request to shift the MCG game to GMHBA Stadium. League has always shown an aversion to those swaps but with no crowds at games it's hard to defend. https://t.co/WeTOpyIIY9

While Scott said he had “moved on” from the scheduling drama, he said his club remained bullish on its right to host home games where it pleases.

“We’ve said it before, we’ll say it again, we feel strongly on behalf of every club in the competition that they should choose to play their 11 home games where they like,” Scott told reporters on Thursday.

“I can’t be more consistent than that.”

Scott said the AFL explained its decision to deny Geelong’s request to club powerbrokers, but he did not wish to be notified as to the league’s rationale.

The Cats are undefeated at GMHBA Stadium this season. Picture: Dylan Burns/AFL Photos via Getty ImagesSource:Getty Images

The premiership-winning coach said he understood the venue controversy was the least of the AFL’s concerns in the volatile Covid climate.

“We’re in an environment where the AFL are in an impossible situation to try to manage everything, and if this is an issue that slips down the priority list, then I think all fair-minded people should be able to live with that and that includes us,” Scott said.

He said he felt the situation was different for finals, and with Geelong looking at a possible top-two finish, he said the onus would be on the AFL to explain its reasoning if the Cats were forced to play a home final in Melbourne.

“Certainly when it comes to finals, that’s slightly different in my view to home-and-away games in that the AFL decide the fixture there,” he said.

“The question (of whether teams should be able to choose where to play home games) should be directed at (the AFL) and they should explain their ethical framework for those situations.”

Under Scott, the Cats have finished in the top two five times but have been permitted to host their qualifying final at Kardinia Park only once — ironically, it was against Fremantle in 2013, the only year of the five that they played a non-Melbourne team in the first week of the finals.

In better news for the Cats, Scott said he was confident star recruit Jeremy Cameron would return to the fold “before the end of the home and away season”.

The former Giant’s first year as a Cat has been hampered by hamstring concerns. He played in Geelong’s win over Essendon in round 16 but was subbed out due to hamstring tightness.

Jeremy Cameron managed to boot three goals against Essendon before he was subbed out injured. Picture: Quinn Rooney/Getty ImagesSource:Getty Images

“We’re really confident he’ll play before the end of the home and away season and give him and us enough time to make sure he’s absolutely cherry ripe going into finals,” Scott said.

Heading into round 19, Scott’s Cats are just two competition points behind the ladder-leading Demons. Of the top three sides, Geelong enjoys the softest run home, playing a team currently in the top eight only once in its next five outings.

However, despite the lofty ladder position, Scott is far from comfortable with the club’s current situation.

“I think we’re working towards our best, but living with anxiety is the lot of the modern day coach,” he said.

“So just get used to being a little bit uncomfortable.

“I can’t remember ever sitting in this position three-quarters of the way through the season thinking that we’re exactly where we want to be and everything’s going to be fine.

“It doesn’t mean it’s not going to be fine, it just means that there’s a lot of anxiety and cautiousness that needs to go into our day-to-day lives.”

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