Pop superstar Adele is being blamed for the Brisbane Lions missing out on hosting the AFLW grand final at the Gabba.
The first AFL Women’s grand final will now be played at Metricon Stadium on the Gold Coast, after turf experts ruled that the Gabba surface is unsafe for football.
The surface was damaged during Adele’s concert at the venue on Saturday 4 March.
Adele’s show famously used an “in-the-round” stage, right in the centre of the ground’s turf, and ground staff have demanded that the turf be given six weeks to recover.
The unbeaten Lions had earned the right to host the final after finishing the home-and-away season on top of the AFLW ladder, but they will now ‘host’ the match at Metricon.
The Adelaide Crows finished second, securing their grand final spot.
Brisbane Times reports that some AFL commissioners pushed for the game to be played at Adelaide Oval, but AFL chief Gillon McLachlan ruled it had to be played in Queensland.
Lions legend Leigh Matthews has criticised the decision on Twitter, pointing out that Etihad Stadium will host AFL football just one week after hosting an Adele concert.
Adele at Etihad , OK for footy 1 week later , Adele at Gabba , unsafe for footy 3 weeks later, who is liable for the embarrasing stuff up ?
— Leigh Matthews (@LeighRMatthews) March 20, 2017
UPDATE: The Brisbane Lions have expressed their “extreme disappointment and frustration” at the decision.
In a statement, Brisbane Lions CEO Greg Swann said it was “totally unfair and totally ridiculous” to not play the grand final at the Gabba.
“Our women’s team have earned the right to play this game at the Gabba and we are all flabbergasted that they have now been denied that right,” Swann said.
“We share the disappointment of our fans who have turned out in their thousands to support the team — we believe a Gabba grand final would have drawn a massive crowd and been a real spectacle.
“We have fought the good fight with the assistance of the AFL and the Queensland Government but this is the decision that has been made, and now we have to make sure our fantastic women’s team has all the support it needs to win the Grand Final.
“We call on Brisbane Lions fans and every Queenslander to get right behind them on this once-in-a-lifetime occasion, and help cheer them to victory on Saturday.”
Swann acknowledged that there are legitimate safety concerns, but slammed Stadiums Queensland’s handling of the issue.
“Stadiums Queensland needs to be held to account over this,” he said.
“Why was new turf laid straight after the Adele concerts knowing full well that there was AFL to be played in a matter of weeks?
“We now have the farcical situation where our women’s team has been denied the chance to play their showpiece game, and there is doubt hanging over our men’s team’s opening home game on April 1.
“We believe every Queenslander with an interest in sport — and women’s sport in particular — should be angry at this decision.
“Those responsible for managing the field of play should be held accountable for a decision that has denied our women’s team the right to create history in front of our loyal supporters.”
Swann said the AFL has been firmly on the Lions’ side.
“The AFL has been really supportive in all this, and they have offered to cover the risk in playing the AFLW grand final at the ground.”
The AFLW grand final between the Brisbane Lions and the Adelaide Crows will be played at Metricon Stadium on Saturday 25 March at 2pm, as the curtain raiser for the men’s Gold Coast Suns v Brisbane Lions clash at 7pm.