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The Australian Rugby League Commission will hold an emergency board meeting on Friday to decide the fate of the grand final, with postponement now shaping as a more likely scenario than a relocation to Townsville.
Thousands of ticket-holders will be locked out of Suncorp Stadium after Queensland Public Health Orders reduced capacity to 75 per cent for the NRL showpiece, meaning only 39,000 fans can attend. However, there are fears the game could be shifted from Brisbane altogether if more cases are detected through south-east Queensland.
ARLC chairman Peter V’landys wouldn’t rule out Sydney as the location for a grand final should it be postponed, declaring “all options are on the table.”
“We’re still quietly confident the Queensland Government is containing [the outbreak],” V’landys told 2GB on Friday morning.
“They’ve done a wonderful job to date in the way they isolate people and tracking people down, etc. So we’re hoping the numbers stay low and we can go on Sunday, but all options are on the table …
“We will have an emergency commission meeting to look at all of our options. Postponement is definitely one. We won’t take any action naturally without consulting the coaches and the two teams. But we want a crowd and if it means postponing the event to get a crowd, we will do so.
The fate of the grand final will be decided on Friday.Credit:Getty
“When we negotiated with the government we always had a plan B and that was to go to Townsville.
“Logistically that may be hard. We’re going to make a decision on that today because you’ve got to get TV crews and OB [outside broadcast] vans up to Townsville from Brisbane.
“Today will be crucial as well tomorrow. We will be ready for whatever contingencies are thrown our way.”
The NRL, which is beholden to the Queensland government’s health advice, won’t be out of pocket regardless of whether the match is played with or without spectators if staged at Suncorp or Queensland Country Bank Stadium. The Australian reports that the government is liable for any losses under the terms of the deal struck with Rugby League Central, which requires them to make up the difference should gate takings diminish as a result of playing at a smaller venue, or with a less-than-capacity crowd.
“We’re leaving everything on the table, we will discuss it at length today.”
Regardless, the NRL wants the game played in front fans. Asked if postponement was more likely than a shift to Townsville, V’landys said: “At this stage yes, because logistically it’s hard to go to Townsville.
“We would have to make a decision today about Townsville. We wouldn’t be able to make it tomorrow because it wouldn’t give us enough time. But that’s still an option on the table at the moment.
“We’re leaving everything on the table, we will discuss it at length today. We will have an emergency commission meeting and have a roadmap planned out for the different circumstances thrown at us.”
Another, less likely, option is for Sydney to host the grand final if Queensland is unable to do so.
“As I said, everything is on the table,” V’landys said.
“We will act in the best interests of the fans and players. It’s going to be a hard decision, because naturally when you make these decisions, not everyone agrees with them. We will have to try to please as many people as we can.”
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