Outgoing AFL CEO Andrew Demetriou has lamented the current contractual situation which prevented football being played this season at the MCG until round two, and stated that the crowd at last night's Richmond-Carlton game was less than the league had been expecting.
Speaking this morning on ABC Radio, Demetriou said that the crowd figure of 62,037 that witnessed the Tigers stave off a second half fightback from the Blues to record their first win of the season was a byproduct of the match not being played as an opening round fixture.
"It's not surprising given it wasn't the opening round, and it reinforces why we're keen to start the season at the MCG first, I guess in the ideal world as we've said we would've preferred to play that as the opening game, Thursday night we would've got 80,000 or 75(000), 78(000)," Demetriou said.
"It was probably down on what we thought, we probably thought we'd get closer to 70(000), it is what it is."
The MCG remains unavailable for football action until late March due to an existing contract with Cricket Victoria. With the decision made this year to start the season earlier in order to gain earlier exposure in the developing northern states football markets, the Tigers and Blues could not clash in what had become a traditional Victorian season opener on the Thursday night of round one. Attendances for the match have exceeded 70,000 for five of the previous six years, with the clash being held in each of those seasons as part of the season's first round.
"It's not our perfect start," Demetriou conceded.
"On one hand it was good we got some coverage in New South Wales and Queensland and if you take off your Victorian-centric hat and sort of become an AFL nationalist, having a win with GWS and Gold Coast particularly with those two markets with NRL and Super 15s."
"No doubt (in the) ideal world we'd start with the MCG with a bang, get a big crowd, it's a big game, that's what we would have preferred."
Demetriou, who earlier this month announced that 2014 would be his last in charge of the competition, did say that he was optimistic a resolution could be reached after recent speculation that the Napthine Government was considering funding a plan whereby Cricket Victoria could relocate to St Kilda's Junction Oval.
"It was pleasing to hear that it looks like the Victorian state government looks like it's going to contribute $10 million to the Junction Oval," Demetriou said.
"It won't happen next year because we're starting late obviously because of the Cricket World Cup, but I think down the track there's enough goodwill to get access to the ground earlier and if we could do that it'd be good."
Demetriou also told hosts Red Symons and Gerard Whateley that he was hopeful Essendon could now continue its season without distraction after the Bombers seemed to reolve what had been a tense stand-off with suspended coach James Hird and his wife Tania.
"I'm pleased that they resolved it for Essendon and their supporters, pleased that the club can move forward I'm pleased that they have put it behind them and they can move forward," Demtriou said.
The 11-year CEO said that Hird should now be able to return the game when his suspension ends in August.
"He's got to fulfill his obligations to the game with his suspension, and if he does that and if he does what he says he would do with Essendon of course he's welcome back."
Speaking later to Neil Mitchell on 3AW, Demetriou revealed he had not received an apology from any of Essendon, James or Tania Hird about Ms Hird's accusation that he tipped off then-Essendon Chairman David Evans about a possible ASADA investigation in February last year, nor was he anxious to receive one.
"I've been happy to move on for a long time," Demetriou said.