The Western Bulldogs will play their Elimination Final against Essendon this Sunday at UTAS Stadium in Launceston, and they are more than comfortable with that decision.
The Bulldogs’ hierarchy worked with the AFL over the weekend to determine the venue for the game, with a number of factors taken into consideration before the call was made.
Dogs’ CEO Ameet Bains and Head of Football Chris Grant were heavily involved in the decision-making process with League headquarters, after the Club earned a ‘home’ final for finishing fifth on the ladder at the end of the home-and-away season.
The AFL had earlier told clubs there would be no finals held in Melbourne during the first week, due to the inability to have crowds at Victorian venues, and they would give the home teams the opportunity to put forward their stadium preference.
“We had initially explored the option of playing our first final at Adelaide Oval, however with Port Adelaide earning their home final and Melbourne choosing the same venue, we essentially had to look at alternatives,” Bains said.
“Launceston appealed to us for a number of reasons. It’s less arduous for the players given it’s a shorter flight, and the restrictions on AFL teams entering Tasmania are less stringent than in other states.
“It’s been a difficult season for our group with several games impacted by extended time on the road and multiple periods of hard isolation, including in the lead-up to last week’s Round 23 game. Our priority is to ensure our players face minimal disruption, so they can prepare for this final in the best way possible.
“We also have recent experience at UTAS Stadium, having played there in Round 22. Although we didn’t get the result we were after on that day, we will be much better for the experience of playing at the venue, and we have familiarity with the travel conditions.
“I know the players, coaches and staff are excited about the opportunity to be playing in the 2021 Finals Series and welcome the prospect of a boisterous, sell-out crowd in Launceston.
“We remain confident about what we can achieve this year on-field, particularly for all of our fans here in Victoria who continue to do it extremely tough right now.”