The AFL is standing by its decision to allow Greater Western Sydney to host their preliminary final at Spotless Stadium despite fears Western Bulldogs fans will be left disappointed.
The Dogs defeated Hawthorn in front of 87,823 fans at the MCG to advance to a preliminary final that will be held at Giants’ 24,000-seat stadium on Saturday.
The Giants have a membership base of around 16,000 while the Bulldogs have approximately 40,000 members.
But the AFL is sticking with historical modelling that indicates Spotless Stadium, and not the larger-capacity ANZ Stadium, will be required to accommodate the crowd.
“It’s (the Giants’) home ground and the AFL has got 20 years of sales history for teams travelling for finals,” AFL spokesman Patrick Keane told ABC Radio on Sunday.
“Over that journey 6,000 to 8,000 is the top end for clubs when we’ve had travelling members go interstate to watch their teams play.
“So if that’s the top end of Bulldogs members who are looking to buy tickets, we look at the size of the stadium and we look at the GWS membership … of which a reasonable number are Canberra-based members.
“So our view is that the venue is appropriate to host the game.
“Obviously we don’t want to be locking people out but equally, when we’ve played finals at ANZ in recent years and had 20,000 to 25,000 fans in a stadium that holds 75,000 to 80,000, it’s not a particularly great look and not a particularly great atmosphere.”
Keane added that GWS have only sold out Spotless Stadium once in the club’s history – when they played Sydney in round 12 this season.
The Bulldogs played the Giants at Spotless this season in round nine when 9,612 fans watched GWS score a 25-point win.
The match is scheduled to start at 5.15pm, which is the latest it can start and still allow the Dogs time to fly back to Melbourne to prepare for the grand final if they win.
Tickets for Saturday’s clash go on sale on Monday morning at 9am and Bulldogs president Peter Gordon urged his club’s members to create a headache for the league.
“We’d like to break some records,” Gordon told Channel Seven’s Game Day.
“We’d like to have as many people going as possible. We want to create a problem for the AFL with capacity.”