Thinking big

Wednesday, June 5

GEELONG will support an AFL proposal to increase the 2003 home and away season to 24 rounds if two key conditions were met.

Cats chief executive Brian Cook said the extra games would have a significant economic impact to the club and the local community, but would only agree if:

TOTAL player payments were covered; and

GEELONG received an extra game at Skilled Stadium.

Cook said the possibility of a 24-round season was brought to his attention when he received an AFL document requesting Geelong's preferred fixtures for 2003, for both a 22 and a 24-round season.

He said he had not received any further information as to player payments and welfare issues.

``I can only go on what I've learned through the media. It has been suggested $2 million extra will be provided to the AFL by television rights holders,'' he said.

``But that works out to be $150,000 per club. It costs us $280,000 to field a side, so we would need to know how to make up the $400,000 difference.

``We would also want an extra game at Skilled Stadium, which would take our total of home games to nine, and three in Melbourne ``

He said that while player welfare issues would also need to be addressed before Geelong agreed, the club's support for the 24-round season had increased over the past few months.

``It would suit Geelong because of its economic impact,'' Cook said. ``A game at Skilled Stadium injects about $1 million per game into the Geelong community and also raises revenue for the club.

``And the other issue is that Geelong has a better chance of winning at home than we do away.''

Other clubs believed to be in favour of the home and away revamp include the big crowd-drawing clubs including Essendon, Carlton, Brisbane and West Coast.

If the new fixture is introduced the Wizard Cup pre-season competition would likely be scrapped in favour of a shorter practice match series.

``Clubs would still want to play some practice matches,'' Cook said.

MEANWHILE when Geelong submits its 2003 requirements this week, the Cats will request all home games in Melbourne be played at Colonial Stadium.

Cook said yesterday it was not as viable for Geelong to host games at the MCG with crowds of less than 50,000. ``We haven't had a crowd in excess of 50,000 at the MCG since I've been here,'' he said.