By Tim Fernandez
Port Adelaide president and breakfast television host David Koch says teams from outside Victoria that finish in the top eight are at a disadvantage come finals time, having played significantly less football at the MCG.
Speaking before Port Adelaide’s 21-point win over Carlton, the Power chairman said Port was only given two games at the MCG in the 2018 home and away season, and that number should be doubled.
“Four visits to the MCG takes away the home ground advantage for the Melbourne clubs for any interstate teams as they prepare to go into the finals,” Koch told Grandstand.
Interstate clubs have historically enjoyed finals success at the MCG, notably the Brisbane Lions who claimed a trifecta of premierships from 2001 to 2003, just five years after the club’s inception.
But recently teams from outside Victoria have struggled in their finals campaigns, with Melbourne clubs clinching victory over an interstate adversary in the last five grand finals.
Richmond’s grand final run last year included a win over GWS in the preliminary final before a comprehensive 48-point victory over minor premiers Adelaide in the final.
During the 2017 season Richmond played 11 games at the MCG while Adelaide only managed three appearances, and Koch says the AFL needs to make sure every team gets enough chances to play at the competition’s biggest venue.
“Interstate clubs should have a full training run, a captain’s run, in the lead-up to every game you play at the MCG,” he said.
“It just gives players a sense of awareness, spatial awareness and levels the playing field a bit. It’s a huge ground, it’s a level ground and there’s no other ground like it.”
MCG deal good for the game but AFL must ensure fair finals
Earlier this year the AFL announced a multi-million-dollar deal to keep the MCG as the home of the AFL’s most prestigious match until 2057.
The deal, valued at half a billion dollars, also includes a slate of improvements to Australia’s largest sporting ground, including an upgrade to the southern stand which promises to maintain the stadium’s capacity to hold more than 100,000 spectators.
It’s a move that cements Melbourne at the centre of Australian football for decades to come.
But Koch says the AFL needs to ensure the finals are also as fair as possible.
“When the AFL did the MCG deal the other month, which you couldn’t argue against because financially it’s just great for our game going forward, the AFL rang me and asked me what do you think of the deal? I said you can’t refuse it,” Koch said.
“It’s professional sport and its part of a national league so there has to be consideration given to everyone.”