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  • Gabba Ruled Unsafe For AFLW Final Due To Damage From Adele Concert

    A "promising inaugural season" of the Australian Football League Women's competition "has descended into farce" with the Brisbane Lions prevented from hosting the grand final because of the condition of the Brisbane Cricket Ground, according to Courtney Walsh of THE AUSTRALIAN. Brisbane players and staff members "were in disbelief and the AFL irate" Monday when the Gabba was "ruled unsafe to play on this Saturday due to damage caused" by a concert by Adele at the venue on March 4. The Lions "earned the right to host the decider against Adelaide after finishing top of the AFLW ladder." But after "lengthy negotiations with Stadiums Queensland," the grand final will now be played on the Gold Coast at Metricon Stadium. Cricket officials fear staging a match on the ground, which does not use a drop-in wicket like some other venues, "could impact the Ashes Test to be staged in November." It is a situation a "furious" AFL CEO Gillon McLachlan branded "extremely disappointing," with Gabba curator Kevin Mitchell "raising the ire of the league and the Brisbane Lions." McLachlan said, "The AFL is profoundly disappointed the Gabba surface is not able to be presented for the AFLW showpiece match but we hope that as many Lions' fans as possible, and travelling fans of the Adelaide Crows, can support the match at Metricon Stadium." McLachlan also declared it "either a question of competence or prioritization." He added, "Of course I'm angry." He was asked "whether the AFL might look at a set venue for the women's grand final in future." McLachlan: "You could look at that -- I just don't know why we have to have that discussion. I mean, really -- three weeks! These venues are billion-dollar pieces of infrastructure, there to be used, and that's the incumbency on the people managing them to get them ready." Brisbane CEO Greg Swann "blasted" Mitchell, saying, "He treats the Gabba as a cricket ground and I'd say he treats football as a necessary evil. We are bitterly disappointed we are not here. We are really disappointed the grass was sown knowing there was a football season coming up and it has hindered what is happening here. We were dumbfounded at the time that someone would re-sow a wicket that isn't needed until the middle of November (for cricket)" (THE AUSTRALIAN, 3/21). The BBC reported the Gabba "will be the venue for the opening Ashes cricket Test against England in November." Cricket Australia CEO James Sutherland said, "This is a very unfortunate situation to be dealing with. As long-term tenants of the Gabba, we're very sympathetic to the Brisbane Lions and the AFL's situation" (BBC, 3/20). The London GUARDIAN reported Adelaide confirmed reports that Metricon Stadium would be used, but on Monday afternoon Brisbane insisted it was still "in negotiations" over the venue (GUARDIAN, 3/20).

    'HELL WOULD BREAK LOOSE': In Brisbane, Greg Swann reported AFL officials warned "their relationship with Stadiums Queensland would never recover if the Round 2 clash with Essendon at the Gabba does not go ahead." McLachlan said Monday's ruling had "already cast a shadow over future negotiations between the league and Stadiums Queensland." Swann "foreshadowed a hefty compensation battle would follow any decision to move the Essendon clash." Swann: "You would be looking at all those avenues for sure. It's our biggest game -- 25,000-plus season opener for us here." Swann said on Monday night that Stadiums Queensland had been "unable to guarantee the match would be played at the Gabba" but declared "all hell would break loose" if his club was again denied access to its home ground (COURIER-MAIL, 3/20).

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