Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk put up her hand and saved the AFL season, Mark Robinson writes.
Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk put up her hand and saved the AFL season, Mark Robinson writes.

'All hail the woman who saved AFL season'

OPINION

Forget the MVP, what about the MVC - Most Valuable Contributor?

"Yeah, it goes to Annastacia,'' Gold Coast Suns president Tony Cochrane said on Tuesday.

"She has stood up, has absolutely worked her backside off with the health department to facilitate the AFL game continuing our competition.

"She's been world class. She's made it happen.

"I don't think the AFL would be operational without Queensland."
And the prize for Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk?

"How about the Grand Final?" Cochrane said.
Brisbane chief executive Greg Swann was equally enthused about the woman who has saved the AFL - and her reward.

"The Queensland government has saved the AFL season and are entitled to ask for the Grand Final to be played at the Gabba,'' Swann said.

"The premier has been a beacon in the AFL's darkest moment.

"She put her hand up when others haven't. She's been outstanding."
All hail Queen Annastacia.

Wednesday was a momentous day for a competition gasping for survival.
With an enemy closing in down south, the AFL escaped north to an ally that for so long was considered a frontier state for the code.

Now it is virtually the home of football. A fortress against the virus.

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Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk may have saved the AFL season. Picture: Tara Croser.
Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk may have saved the AFL season. Picture: Tara Croser.


Cochrane wasn't beating his chest about the merits of the AFL ploughing millions of dollars into the Gold Coast over the years, but nor could he ignore it.

"You know what, it's testimony to the AFL Commission,'' he said.

"They had the foresight 10 years ago to expand the competition, to get governments on board to build these facilities and to put us in a position today where we have 300,000 kids playing the great game in Queensland.

"Without the foresight of the commission, we'd all be in a ton of trouble.

"And there's someone else, too. Kate Jones, the Minister state development and tourism. She has been terrific.''
Swann agreed: "This wouldn't have happened without Kate.''

Nor without AFL chief executive Gillon McLachlan.
Announcing Wednesday's significant development, he appeared even calmer than normal.

As though he were supremely confident he had, first, made the right decision to abandon Victoria ahead of the curve and, second, put New South Wales in the rear vision mirror.

Clearly, McLachlan is leading a life of agility and flexibility, although he remains in Melbourne.

One of his trusted lieutenants, fixture boss Travis Auld, is halfway through quarantine in Queensland and will hit the ground sometime next week.

McLachlan would've been persuasive with the AFL Players Association in the past 48 hours when it was explained that hub life in Queensland, first five weeks and then six weeks, would now be for at least 10 weeks.

 

Victorian clubs doing battle at Queensland AFL venues will become the new normal. Picture: Getty
Victorian clubs doing battle at Queensland AFL venues will become the new normal. Picture: Getty

 

Little wonder McLachlan thanked the players and club staff for their understanding.

The "poor diddums" attitude towards the players from some people in the community surely now can be parked.

This is a hell of an investment from the players and, please, no more comparisons with mining and defence workers.

At a cost of about $3 million a week, the AFL is endeavouring to help the players.

It is working to move families to the northern hubs and they have made it known to all players and staff that if they want to return to their families in Victoria, they have the AFL's blessing.

Whatever happens, the sport will go on regardless. It has to.

For the millions of dollars it produces and the many jobs it saves and for the many hours of entertainment it provides to the people, not least the Victorians who are in lock down for the next six weeks, and maybe longer.

"The players and the club staff are being undersold," Swann said.

"It's easy to say they are going to resorts on the Gold Coast, how hard is that? It's big what they're doing. They've still got restrictions and now they're away for eight to 10 weeks, that's hard.''

Wednesday's announcement provides more complexity to an already befuddled season.

Teams will be in Western Australia and Queensland, games will likely now be played in northern Queensland (which presents a logistic nightmare for the broadcasters), and matches are being considered for Darwin and Tasmania in a fly-in-fly-out arrangement.

 

Brisbane Lions CEO Greg Swann. Picture: Annette Dew
Brisbane Lions CEO Greg Swann. Picture: Annette Dew

 

For Queensland, it's massive for the code. And for the Brisbane and Gold Coast teams, it's a massive boost for their aspirations this year.

They will play most of their games at the Gabba and at Metricon, their home grounds.
Swann acknowledged it was an advantage, but not necessarily solely for the home-ground advantage.

"Certainly there's an advantage in that you get to sleep in your own bed, that's the biggest advantage," he said.

"Whether that transfers into wins because you're not travelling too much I'm not sure. Some of the clubs are talking about how they're really enjoying hub life, so it's a bit hard to work out at this stage."

Some clubs will scream blue murder because the Lions are a premiership fancy and having so many home games will favour them.

On the flip side, it's probably a bit like having so many MCG games for Richmond and Collingwood in every other season.

There's plenty to play out, but if the Lions - or the Suns for that matter - win the flag, Queen Annastacia will be the first invited to the celebrations.

 

Originally published as Robbo: All hail the woman who saved AFL season



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