Time for the AFL to spread the public holiday blockbuster love

Good Friday football is here to stay. Whatever your opinion, it is not going anywhere after decent television ratings and a pass mark for the 42,000 in attendance on Friday afternoon at Etihad Stadium. The question that needs addressing now though is whether another state should get a crack at having hosting rights to footy’s hottest new time slot.

With every other public holiday stand alone blockbuster held in Melbourne, it is time other states got a chance to shine on the national stage. North Melbourne and the Western Bulldogs will be given at least one more go at making the day their own in Victoria. However, there is now the argument to have two games on Good Friday and play another game on Friday night away from Melbourne. Adelaide, Perth and Sydney are your contenders, but surely Adelaide Oval has bided its time long enough now and shown that whatever the time slot, fans will show up in droves. It deserves a blockbuster that is not the Showdown. There is no reason fans would not flock to the Adelaide Oval on a Friday night for a big clash between a high-drawing opponent. Essendon, Carlton, Sydney or even St Kilda could all be options here. We saw just last weekend, a crowd of 47,000 for the Adelaide, Essendon game on Easter Saturday night.

Every other public holiday game is played in Melbourne. From the opening round clash between Richmond and Carlton, to Easter Monday with Geelong and Hawthorn, ANZAC Day between Collingwood and Essendon and the Queens Birthday clash featuring Collingwood and Melbourne. Surely it is time a game was played interstate on a public holiday. It is a national competition after all isn’t it?

Adelaide Oval has proven itself time and time again and the Adelaide Crows have made it known that they would be open to playing footy on Good Friday. It makes sense then to give the Good Friday night-time slot to them. It could almost be guaranteed that more than 42,000 would pass through the gates and surely a later in the day time slot would encourage a more than healthy television audience. It would also allow one less game to have to be played on Easter Sunday, which in theory is a day people are far less likely to go to the footy than on Good Friday. There felt like there was an appetite for more footy following the conclusion of the North Melbourne and Western Bulldogs game. Instead if you wanted a sporting fix, fans flocked to watching an NRL game, of which there were three played across the day.

Channel Seven are likely to argue that the Good Friday Appeal takes pride of place for them on that night every year. Seven however have multiple channels now and there is no reason why the Appeal or the footy for that matter could not be shifted to one of a secondary channel. Surely the advertising sold from a Friday Night game would be hard to pass up on and you could continue to get footy fans donating throughout a second match anyway. If not, I am sure Foxtel would be happy to come to the party. They had a stand alone Thursday Night game heading into Easter, which could very well be a sign of things to come and no doubt would jump at the chance to have a Friday Night game exclusively on pay television.

The AFL have made it clear that they believe in Good Friday football and there is absolutely no chance that 2017 was a one-off event. They now must embrace it wholeheartedly around the country and not just in Victoria. The North Melbourne, Western Bulldogs game can remain in Melbourne as a twilight Good Friday affair, but surely in 2018, if this really is the Australian Football League, a secondary game will be played away from Victorian shores.

Picture – North Melbourne Football Club

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