The AFL will confirm within days that this year’s grand final will be played outside of Victoria for the first time.
AFL boss Gillon McLachlan says the location of the 2020 decider will be announced by the end of next week.
With a contract in place to hold the grand final at the MCG until 2057, the AFL has refused to comment on an inevitable finals series away from Victoria.
But with Melburnians still in a stage-four COVID-19 lockdown and just six rounds of the home-and-away season remaining, it is near-impossible to honour that Victorian government contract.
“I think we’ve been pretty consistent that we’re aiming for the end of August,” McLachlan told 3AW on Friday.
“We continue to work with the Victorian government; wherever we land will be in concert with them.
“We’re having very fair conversations with the Victorian government and it’s increasingly looking very challenging in Victoria.
“We’ll have a decision by the end of next week, whether it’s Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday.”
The Gabba in Brisbane is looming as the favourite to host the grand final due to Queensland hosting all Victorian clubs for much of the home-and-away season.
News Corp has reported that Queensland’s chief health officer has signed off on increasing capacity at the Gabba to 75 per cent – or 30,000 spectators.
Recent games at the Brisbane venue have been restricted to accommodate about 10,000 spectators.
Perth’s Optus Stadium is considered next in line, but tight border restrictions in Western Australia are likely to prove too tricky for the AFL to manage.
Western Australian premier Mark McGowan says he will continue to prioritise the health of the state’s citizens above the grand final.
“Clearly Optus is heaps better than the Gabba,” McGowan told reporters on Friday.
“We haven’t hunted it, we haven’t been desperate for it, we haven’t been pleading for it.
“We just said ‘these are the guidelines, these are the rules, adhere to them like everyone else and the grand final can be at the best stadium in the country’.
“We’ve played a bit hard to get.”
The grand final hasn’t been played away from the MCG since 1991 when Hawthorn defeated West Coast at Waverley Park.
McLachlan said it was likely the Brownlow Medal, which Brisbane’s Lachie Neale is a hot-favourite to win, will be held in the same state as the grand final.
“Not certain but likely … we haven’t made a decision but probably likely they go hand in glove,” he said.