Daniel Nichols – The Finals Double Header Suits No One

With the unprecedented success of Sydney teams, 4 finals will be played in the city over next weekend. Due to the fact the AFL have booked ANZ Stadium for the Saturday Night for the Swans home final, the NRL have been ‘forced’ to allocate 2 games to Allianz Stadium on Saturday Night – a finals double header.

Whilst it will be a lot of fun for fans to watch 2 games of finals football in one venue for the price of one ticket, the Double Header really suits no one.

Allianz Stadium seats roughly 45,000 fans. That’s 45,000 seats to be divided by 4 teams, 2 of which will be Sydney based, one of which uses the Stadium as its home ground during the regular season and are likely to play a Sydney based ‘away’ side and the possibility of Newcastle, a close-ish away side.

The Roosters have averaged roughly 20,000 people to their games this season and having finished Minor Premiers would expect 30,000 plus to show up to their home final. They will unlikely have to turn fans away as the Sharks, who have also earned a home final would expect at least 15,000 to show up to support them also.

What about Manly and the likely opponents of the Sharks, the Knights? Do their fans completely miss out due to home allocation? If they are allocated 5,000 each, why should the Roosters and the Sharks fans miss out? Why should the Roosters have to share their home ground advantage with the Sharks and vice versa?

The Sharks home ground Remondis Stadium holds 22,000. The move to Allianz will mean the Sharks have less allocation of tickets to sell than they would have at their genuine home ground. Not only this, but the Leagues club misses out on a busy day and night sales wise, and fans of the club have to travel nearly an hour to the city.

From day one all Sydney teams knew this would be the case. My question is, why should The Sharks have to cut their allocation of tickets to their ‘home’ game when the entire reason it has been shifted from Remondis Stadium in the first place was to ensure fans didn’t miss out on seeing their team play finals footy?

The Sharks finished 5th at best (we’ll find out tomorrow) and deserve a home final, and a full allocation of tickets, BUT it’s the Roosters who have every right to feel slighted by the NRL. They won the Minor Premiership last night with a win over the Bunnies in front of nearly 60,000 people. I was there and would guess 20,000 were Roosters fans. You’d have to imagine a team playing so well, AT HOME, would attract a higher number of fans.

You could be forgiven for thinking a game between 2 Sydney sides would sell out Allianz by itself, or at least come very close. You’d think the Sharks vs. Newcastle (likely) game would put 25,000 or so on by itself as Newcastle fans have traditionally travelled in fair numbers to finals.

The fact the NRL claims to have ‘no option’ but to stage a double header is an absolute cop out. Let the Sharks play their game at Remondis, or use the SCG if they have to stick to their 30,000+ seater stadium policy. I personally would sell them as 2 separate games. $25 entry to the Sharks vs. whoever they play, $25 for the Roosters vs. Manly/Melbourne or $35 for both games.

The NRL are duding their Minor Premiers, they’re penalising the Sharks for capturing a home final, they’re even working against the fans of Manly/Melbourne and likely the Knights also … and most importantly they’re duding themselves. 20,000 at Remondis + 35,000 at Allianz is better than 45,000 at Allianz.

This ‘Double Header’ is only one option, certainly not the only option as the NRL are claiming, and in doing so are hurting fans of the 4 clubs, the very fans they claim to be helping

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