The first ever women’s AFL Grand Final has been turfed from The Gabba after more than 120,000 Adele fans trashed the joint following the cockney soul diva’s packed concert double-header three weeks ago.
The landmark game will now be shifted to the Gold Coast after officials deemed the pitch “unsafe”.
The Brisbane Lions scored the right to host the decider after an undefeated debut season, but as the ABC reports, turf needed to be relaid on four of seven wicket blocks following the Adele shows, and a final inspection of the field today saw the team’s sky fall.
The grounds are in no condition for footy, and Gabba grounds staff are rolling in the deep shit with Brisbane Lions chief executive Greg Swann, who reckons the grass was hastily sewn on the Gabba’s pitch with no concern for the code.
“We are disappointed the grass was sewn knowing there was a football season coming up and it’s hindered what is happening here,” he tells the broadcaster. “It is shifty and hasn’t taken yet.”
“Adele has played around the country everywhere and other grounds have been able to get their surfaces up.”
While former Lions coach Leigh Matthews has echoed the same sentiments, pointing out that other stadiums haven’t had any issues.
“Adele at Etihad, OK for footy one week later, Adele at Gabba, unsafe for footy three weeks later, who is liable for the embarrassing stuff up?” he tweeted.
Adele at Etihad , OK for footy 1 week later , Adele at Gabba , unsafe for footy 3 weeks later, who is liable for the embarrasing stuff up ?
— Leigh Matthews (@LeighRMatthews) March 20, 2017
But their fury is nothing compared to AFL boss Gillon McLachlan, who’s attacked the judgement of Gabba management over the whole debacle.
“It’s difficult to process how the venue is not available to showcase this game (the grand final) – I feel it’s either a question of competence or prioritisation,” he tells Wide World Of Sports. “Of course I’m angry.”
“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.”
Also speaking with WWOS, Greg Swann further labelled the situation “totally unfair and totally ridiculous”.
Meanwhile, Cricket Australia want the AFL to bugger off for a while to give the pitch a chance to recover properly, still freaking out that the pitch might not have recovered in time for the cricket.
A “metal road” had to be built on top of the traditionally bouncy pitch for the Adele gigs, with thousands of seats set up on the playing surface atop a white plastic covering. And Cricket Australia aren’t happy with the results.
They’ve written to Stadiums Queensland asking for the AFLW grand final to be held elsewhere, and for the men’s Lions team to play away from the Gabba for the first few rounds to give ground staff enough time to repair the damage.
However, McLachlan reckons the grounds will be good in time for the Brisbane-Essendon round two men’s fixture.
Which is all well and good for them, but the Brissie Lions women’s squad will now have to play Adelaide on Saturday arvo at Queensland’s Carrara Stadium, with the match to become the curtain-raiser for the men’s round one Queensland derby.
Lions’ player Selina Goodman says they’re bummed they won’t be getting their standalone women’s match.
“I would say because we have earnt the right,” she tells the ABC. “Like a few of the the girls have said so far, it doesn’t matter where the venue is or what time, or what opposition we’re playing, we’re going to be there raring to go and ready to win that premiership.”
Set fire to the rain, girls.
— Chris O'Brien (@COBrienBris) March 14, 2017
"There was a delay because a final inspection today deemed Gabba unsafe. Alt venues had to be looked at. MCG offered as option" – G Swann pic.twitter.com/E08QwRadaV
— Brisbane Lions AFLW (@lionsaflw) March 20, 2017