The chairman of the ARL committee, Peter V’landys, believes the NRL season would not have been completed if they had waited just a week longer to move it to Queensland.
The grand final is increasingly likely to be held at Suncorp Stadium today after another day of cheering COVID-19 numbers in Queensland. Only two new locally acquired cases were discovered on Saturday as the state tried to contain a small outbreak. But the fate of the showpiece this morning is determined by the number of infections.
If Queensland is not shut down soon, the match will go ahead as planned, as long as audience capacity is not reduced below 50 per cent. In its current form, Suncorp can use 75 percent of its seating, which would result in 39,000 spectators witnessing the first NRL grand final outside of Sydney.
The NRL is determined to play the game in front of an audience, meaning the decider will be postponed rather than in front of an empty stadium.
V’landys was unwilling to declare a major Suncorp final across the line yesterday, but said the signs were good.
“It’s all good today, but we still have Sunday,” he said. “If they have a case they can’t trace, that’s the problem. At this stage, all systems are going for 75 percent. The fact that there was none [unconnected cases] today it looks promising.”
The NRL moved its nine Sydney-based clubs – as well as the Knights, Raiders and Newcastle – in mid-July due to rising infection rates in NSW. The shift involved significant costs estimated between $12 million and $15 million per month, although it remains a relatively low cost in the context of the NRL’s contractual obligations to broadcasters.
V’landys thinks the season probably wouldn’t have ended if the NRL had delayed the decision by just a week.
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