Good Friday football is coming, finally, to the AFL.
And while AFL chief executive Gillon McLachlan admits North Melbourne’s long-standing bid for the right to stage such a game deserves due consideration, he says the Swans are also in the running.
North Melbourne, Carlton and Western Bulldogs have been among those pushing for Good Friday football, which was approved on Monday by the AFL commission.
“There has been a growing appetite to hold a game on this day and on balance we believe the time is right,” AFL commission chairman Mike Fitzpatrick told a media conference on Monday.
“AFL matches are scheduled on every other public holiday during the season.
“It’s now up to the AFL executive to determine whether or not to create a Good Friday fixture and if so when and where.”
McLachlan acknowledged the departure of his predecessor Andrew Demetriou had been a factor, given that Demetriou was an opponent of staging a game on the religious holiday.
“Andrew had a view and I’m a different person to Andrew,” McLachlan said.
But McLachlan said the concept of playing on Good Friday might not be a good fit for the league’s fixture in 2015.
“Next year the most likely weekend we would start the season would be that Easter weekend after the Cricket World Cup final and that makes it problematic,” he said.
“So I don’t think it’s a given we’ll play next year and part of that is the difficulty of finding a match-up.”
McLachlan said last week’s sold-out clash at the SCG between Sydney and Port Adelaide was an appealing prospect as a possible Good Friday game.
“Sydney at 4.40pm might be a great slot up there or Gold Coast might be great,” McLachlan said.
“There’s no doubt the Kangaroos have been talking about this for some time and I certainly think that’s a consideration.
“There’s a lot of clubs who would love a run at it.
“I don’t think we’re in a hurry. I don’t think there’s any need to make a decision before the whole fixture’s done.”
Seventh-placed North and the 13th-placed Bulldogs have been vocal about how it’s their turn to host a big game. McLachlan has challenged battling clubs to play “fun football” to give themselves the best chance of coming under consideration.
“People want to see a good game and I think where the clubs sit on the ladder and what people view the contest is going to be like is as important as the two teams themselves,” he said.
“If you play competitive, fun football, people watch and you’ll get the good (time) slots. It’s as simple as that.”
McLachlan said the AFL would seek to promote the Good Friday Appeal in conjunction with any game on the religious holiday.
AFL fixturing boss Simon Lethlean had met with church groups, broadcasters and Good Friday Appeal organisers as part of discussions regarding football on Good Friday, McLachlan said.