This Saturday’s AFLW semi-final between Richmond and North Melbourne should be moved to a bigger venue, according to Kangaroos captain Emma Kearney, adding to criticism the fixture will also clash with the much-anticipated Matildas match against Sweden.
- North Melbourne captain Emma Kearney says some fans “won’t be able to get in” at Punt Rd Oval
- Former Hawks captain Meg Hutchins agreed the final should be played at a bigger ground
- The AFL said the Tigers earned the right to play a home final and preferred Punt Rd
The AFL on Sunday released the fixture for the second week of finals, announcing the Tigers would host the Kangaroos at their home venue of Punt Road Oval on Saturday afternoon at 1:40pm AEDT, before Adelaide plays Collingwood at Unley Oval in Adelaide immediately after at 3:40pm AEDT.
The Matildas and Sweden kick-off in Melbourne at 2:45pm AEDT, which is the first time the national side has played in the city since 2019.
Kearney said Punt Road Oval is too small for a final.
“Richmond would be desperate to play at Punt Road. It’s where they train, they know the ground really well,” the Kangaroos skipper told The W podcast.
“I think if you’re looking for the fans though they’ve got a capacity of 2,500.
“We had over 4,000 at Kardinia Park [on Saturday]. We know that Richmond’s got a big supporter base.
“So I just feel for the supporters that will want to get down to that game and won’t be able to get in.
“I quite like playing at [Princes Park]. It’s got a smaller capacity than [Docklands] but it’s still got that community feel that is AFLW. I would like to see it there.”
Former Hawthorn captain Meg Hutchins agreed.
“Punt Road Oval is not a really family-friendly venue to watch,” said Hutchins, who retired in 2021 and is now a player mentor at the Hawks.
“Kids can’t stand and look over the fence. They actually can’t see over the fence. There’s not a lot of shelter.”
Hutchins said the AFL had an ideal opportunity to play the semi-final at Princes Park.
“They’ve put a lot of money into refurbishing it and to make it into the home of women’s football with broadcast quality lights and new changeroom facilities yet it’s sitting there not being used.
“So if they want to build a facility that can host women’s football and women’s football finals then they’ve got one right there ready to go.”
The AFL said a number of factors had weighed into the weekend’s fixturing decisions.
“Richmond earned the right to host the semi-final and indicated a very strong preference to play on their home deck at Punt Road – which we know will have a great atmosphere come 1:40pm Saturday,” an AFL spokesperson said.
“When scheduling finals matches, the AFL takes into consideration a number of factors including the home team venue preference, days breaks for clubs (both the week before and the following week), timings for fans, clubs and broadcast, and forecasted crowd and venue capacity.”
“Our role is to give our AFLW matches the best possible chance to be a successful event and after an amazing week one, we have two great semi-finals lined up on Saturday afternoon across Victoria and SA, live on Channel 7, and based on day one ticket sales, really strong attendance interest in both games.”
Hutchins also said the decision to play the semi-finals at the same time as the Matildas-Sweden game was wrong, and would create a headache for many fans of the women’s game.
“AFLW supporters, a lot of them support and want to support all women’s sport, not just AFLW.
“So the scheduling of the two games that basically overlap and clash with the Matildas game is a big mistake.
“There’s a lot of AFLW supporters that have got tickets to the Matildas that can’t come to an AFLW game anymore, a final as well, because they’re going to the Matildas game.
“That’s a bit disappointing. People want to watch females play but not they have to choose unfortunately.”
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