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SBD Global/July 1, 2014/Leagues and Governing Bodies

Australian Football League Set To Scrap Sunday Night Games Due To Poor Attendance

Just 40,000 fans showed up for Sunday night's Collingwood-Carlton match.
The Australian Football League "is set to abandon Sunday night football following the disastrous attendance" at the Collingwood-Carlton Melbourne Cricket Ground night match which drew just 40,921 people, according to Daniel Cherny of THE AGE. The Magpies-Blues clash "was one of six Sunday night games (Eastern time) played this season as part of an AFL experiment to test timeslot ahead of future broadcasting rights negotiation deals." 1,019,315 people watched the game nationally on either Seven, its secondary channel 7mate or on Fox Footy. However the game "was the lowest attended MCG encounter between the two traditional rivals since 1921." The league is halfway through its "monumental" A$1.253B five-year TV rights deal. Its inception "led to every game except the Grand Final being broadcast live on Foxtel, with Seven screening four games per week including the marquee Friday night slot, in addition to all finals live" (THE AGE, 6/30). In Melbourne, Michael Gleeson reported Sunday night’s Collingwood-Carlton made-for-TV match "was the final indignity, not the reason for the abandonment of a bad idea." Even the AFL "stayed at home and watched the footy on TV." No AFL commissioner or exec member "went to an official function at the game." They do not go to every game, but the big games such as Carlton-Collingwood "normally draw a crowd both in the stands and at the official functions, and the AFL attends." Perhaps they "knew something in advance" (THE AGE, 6/30). The AAP reported AFL CEO Gillon McLachlan said that "while Thursday night games had proved popular in 2014, the same could not be said for Sunday nights." McLachlan: "We will always look at new initiatives -- just as we have done in the past with Friday night and Saturday twilight football -- but matchday attendance is a core ingredient of the success of our game and, in this instance, we acknowledge the very strong feedback from our fans and our clubs in relation to Sunday night football, particularly in Victoria" (AAP, 6/29).
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