Sydney chief executive Andrew Ireland has hailed the news the Swans will play this season’s AFL home finals matches at the SCG, unless they host a derby against cross-town rivals Greater Western Sydney.
The Swans were contracted to play home finals matches this year at ANZ Stadium, but the AFL have reached an agreement with the venue’s management for finals against non-Sydney teams to be played at the SCG.
AFL chief Gillon McLachlan said ANZ Stadium management and his organisation agreed it was in the best interests of Swans fans that the club played its finals at the SCG, unless they hosted GWS.
ANZ Stadium can accommodate about 35,000 more patrons than the SCG.
“This is a win-win for both parties, with ANZ Stadium members having access to any Swans final played at the SCG and the Sydney fans being able to see their team play at the venue where they have so far played all matches through the 2016 season,” McLachlan said.
“If the finals fixture produces a head-to-head match between the Swans and the Giants, this would possibly be the biggest game in NSW in the history of our sport and we would play that game at ANZ Stadium.”
The Swans haven’t played a finals game at the SCG for 11 years since their dramatic semi-final win over Geelong.
Since then they have played eight finals matches at ANZ Stadium, winning the first seven before losing to North Melbourne in 2015, though more than half the games drew crowds smaller than the SCG’s capacity.
“We’re really pleased with today’s decision to move finals matches to the SCG because we know the preference of our members and supporters is to play finals at our home ground,” Ireland said.
Sydney have played at least three games a year at ANZ Stadium since 2002.
They were scheduled to play three home games there outside finals in 2016, but an agreement was reached earlier in the year to shift those fixtures to the SCG, with ANZ Stadium members getting access to three matches at that venue in each of 2016, 17 and 18.
“It goes to the heart of our 14-year relationship that ANZ Stadium’s valued members will have the opportunity to attend any Sydney Swans Finals matches scheduled at the SCG,” ANZ Stadium chief executive officer Daryl Kerry said.
He added if there was an all-Sydney final at his stadium, it would be fitting farewell to the code at the venue, which will soon be redeveloped into a rectangular shape.