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AFL boss defends China venture, admits crowd was ‘a bit’ disappointing

in studio with neil mitchell

AFL boss Gillon McLachlan admits the crowd at the China clash was “a bit” disappointing, but says the league won’t be abandoning its venture into Asia any time soon.

The clash between St Kilda and Port Adelaide had been billed as a “sell-out” in the lead-up but there were plenty of empty seats on gameday.

McLachlan told Neil Mitchell it was unfortunate, but said there were contributing factors that made it look worse than it actually was.

“There’s a challenge with the way the catering and service works that you need to be in a marquee,” he explained.

“There are a lot of people in tents and they need to be allocated a seat.”

He said the league would continue playing games in China.

“There’s this narrative that there’s a ‘cost’ – it’s not costing anything – that game breaks even for the AFL and the clubs are making money,” McLachlan said.

“A clear part of why we are there is because China is a very important market for Australia – our biggest trading partner – and we think we can make money in the end.

“Why are we doing that? So we can invest in community programs, in women’s football and all the places we do.

“It’s a huge commercial opportunity.”

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in studio with neil mitchell