The AFL is considering whether to start the 2022 men’s season on a Wednesday night with a rematch of the 2021 grand final or stick with the traditional Carlton-Richmond opener.
Senior sources at the AFL confirmed that the grand final rematch between Melbourne and the Western Bulldogs was a chance to be the first game, with the alternative of the established Blues v Tigers game, which would likely stay on a Thursday night.
The Demons-Bulldogs game is likely to be played in round one regardless of whether it is the season opener or not. It would be played at the MCG.
There has long been an argument that the first game of the season ought to be between the grand finalists of the season before, or the two highest-placed Victorian teams. But Carlton and Richmond’s Thursday night match has been a genuine blockbuster, drawing significant crowds even though one team or the other has struggled, Carlton most recently.
The size of the supporter bases of Carlton and Richmond also means that game can draw a significant crowd without the status of being the season opener, provided it is in a favourable slot.
League sources said Thursday night was still the likely slot for the Blues and Tigers, even if the grand final rematch preceded it on the Wednesday.
If the grand final rematch was a Melbourne home game, as expected given the MCG would be the venue, it would also give the Demons the opportunity to unfurl their first premiership flag in 57 years – an occasion that would significantly boost the appeal to Melbourne supporters.
“As much as they enjoyed what went on in Perth, the Demons supporters feel like they missed out on the experience,” Pert told The Age at the time.