The AFL’s decision to grant Greater Western Sydney a home final at Spotless Stadium has raised eyebrows, with Geelong and the Western Bulldogs saying they deserve the same right.
GWS will host the September 24 preliminary final against either Hawthorn or the Western Bulldogs at their 24,000 capacity home venue.
Geelong chief executive Brian Cook says the league’s decision is a game-changer which should pave the way for the Cats to play home finals at Simonds Stadium from 2017.
The venue’s capacity will increase to 36,000 once an ongoing redevelopment is completed in May.
Geelong will host their home preliminary final against either Sydney or Adelaide at the MCG but Cook said the Cats’ push to host more playoff matches at Simonds Stadium had been strengthened.
“We think if it’s good enough for GWS down at Spotless, it’s good enough for us down at Simonds,” he told SEN Radio.
Geelong’s sole finals appearance at Simonds Stadium – a 2013 semi-final against Fremantle – was only scheduled there because the MCG was unavailable and it was against a non-Victorian team.
Cook said the redeveloped Simonds Stadium would be suitable for finals against any opposition except for big-drawing Melbourne clubs such as Hawthorn and Collingwood.
“I think we would still probably need to play them in Melbourne,” he said.
“But that’s not an easy question to answer because there are a lot of our members who would say `play it in Geelong’s because it gives us the best chance of making a grand final’.
“We don’t think there’s any excuse for us not to host a final if we deserve one and earn it.”
The Western Bulldogs are keen to play home finals at Etihad Stadium after they were forced to host Adelaide at the MCG in the first week of last year’s playoffs.
Veteran defender Matthew Boyd said the club had moved on from last year’s finals but admitted Etihad would have been a preferable venue.
“We would have liked to have played a home final last year at Etihad, obviously, earning the home final like we did,” he said on Monday.
Former Bulldogs captain Brad Johnson said he believed the AFL had been inconsistent in deciding where finals games should be played.
“Dogs didn’t get Etihad against Adelaide last year for crowd, we had to go to MCG because it’s the best venue in the state,” he told RSN927.