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Queensland hopes to host AFL grand final as more Victorian teams move in

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The AFL is preparing to shift Victorian-based clubs into Queensland hubs for the remainder of the season with the AFL grand final set to follow.

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AFL hierarchy are understood to have told clubs on Wednesday that eight of 10 Victorian clubs will be stationed in Queensland for the rest of the season.

Two other Victorian clubs will be placed in Perth hubs on a rotating basis in a fresh plan made amid spikes in coronavirus cases in Melbourne and Sydney.

The move, expected to be detailed by the AFL later Wednesday, means Queensland is firming as the likely host of the grand final – the first time the showpiece match will be played outside of Melbourne.

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has confirmed AFL chief Gillon McLachlan has asked for more clubs to be based in her state.

“He is looking to book accommodation for hundreds of players and officials at Queensland hotels for two months,” the Premier said on Wednesday.

“I stress none of these measures can happen without strict quarantine protocols and the COVID management plan that has allowed the AFL season to proceed.

“As everyone knows, AFL’s more than a sport to Victorians. We know how they feel.

“Given the choice between not having a season and having it based in Queensland I think I know what the fans would like to happen.”

Currently, six Melbourne-based clubs are in Queensland hubs – St Kilda, North Melbourne, Essendon, Western Bulldogs, Richmond and Carlton.

The clubs were shifted from Melbourne early last week amid the Victorian capital’s escalating numbers of coronavirus cases.

Four other clubs – West Coast, Fremantle, Adelaide and Port Adelaide – have returned to their home states after spending up to five weeks based in Queensland.

Two other Melbourne clubs, Hawthorn and Melbourne, are currently based in Sydney while Collingwood and Geelong have shifted to Perth hubs.

The AFL has announced a fixture for only the next two rounds, with Gold Coast’s Metricon Stadium and Brisbane’s the Gabba central to ongoing schedules given travel restrictions, most notably involving Victoria.

Palaszczuk said Queensland’s pivotal role in ensuring the AFL season can continue should be rewarded with hosting rights for the grand final.

“As I told Gil, if the season (is) based here then the grand final should be played here too,” she said.

McLachlan has said the AFL would decide a venue for the grand final in August.

The MCG holds a contract to host the showpiece game but given crowd bans, travel restrictions and coronavirus cases, there is a growing likelihood of the grand final being played elsewhere.

State governments in Western Australia, NSW and South Australia have also indicated a desire to host the premiership decider.

-AAP

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