AFL ‘Getting Game Back On Track’ For Crowds; Roughead retires to protect long-term health

Confirming Friday that he was interested in enticing music icon Bruce Springsteen to perform at the grand finale, McLachlan said there were signs of optimism amid constraints.

“We are coming out of COVID. 2019 was a record year and we are getting back into our rhythm. If we look at GA [general admittance] sales, they are about the same… the show percentage of our members who are again at record levels. There’s a lot of bits in it,” McLachlan said in his biweekly spot on 3AW.

“There is a bit of form at work. Four of our Melbourne teams actually have more crowds than they did in 2019, and those are the obvious ones – the Saints, Melbourne and Carlton and the Hawks.

“I also think there are a lot of people. They report 40,000 [COVID] cases [nationally] one day. I don’t know what the real number is – five, ten times as much. So there are a lot of people on a rolling basis who can’t get there. It’s the show rates and they get better every week.”

South Australia and Western Australia experienced their highest number of COVID-19 cases in 2022, while Optus Stadium in Perth had reduced capacity during the first seven rounds.

“There is a capacity problem in WA. SA has gone down quite a bit, that’s the one that seems a bit of an outlier,” McLachlan said.

McLachlan admitted it was difficult for supporters to navigate the digital ticket system, but said 2.7 million people had attended games this season, and he expected about 80,000 at the MCG for Sunday’s blockbuster between Carlton and Collingwood


“I know that for some, a lot of people, digital ticketing is a challenge. You can use it physically. On Sunday there will be 80,000 and we will continue with the problems of the day that were challenging,” he said.

The AFL has frozen general admission tickets to all MCG and Marvel Stadium games and introduced a new $50 family membership in 2022. While there have been comments that the 50m penalties for disagreements frustrated fans and damaged the spectacle, McLachlan said the crackdown was required.

“Objectively everyone agrees that this is the right decision… the emotion of the game may be less. But the players have adapted amazingly and now we have a few outliers every week and it gets better every week,” he said.

The drug charges facing former Saint Sam Fisher have sparked an investigation into the methods used by the AFL, AFL Players Association and clubs to help players transition to life outside of football

McLachlan said more needs to be done to train players while they were still in the system, but admitted “then there’s a point where it’s individual responsibility”.

“People have to make their own decisions,” he said.

“He [Fisher] been out of the game for six or eight years. The focus for us, if you take a broader view, the industry, the AFL, the players’ association, the clubs, [we] continue to focus on transition. That means while players are playing.”

McLachlan denied that his appetite for a 19th league license awarded to Tasmania was waning, revealing that he had met Tasmania’s new Prime Minister, Jeremy Rockliff, at least three times. The 18 club presidents and chairman will vote on Tasmania’s bid in August

“With regard to the Prime Minister, I think I’ve had at least three meetings with him, maybe more,” McLachlan said.

The AFL is chasing music icon Bruce Springsteen to make it to the grand finale this year.Credit:AP

He also revealed that he is chasing Bruce Springsteen, 72, to perform at this year’s grand finale, which will be his last to lead. However, securing the music icon is a different story.

“I’m always after him. He’s just hard to get,” he said.

Collingwood defender Roughead retires to protect long-term health

Peter Ryan

Collingwood defender and Premiership player Jordan Roughead of Collingwood has battled a shoulder problem in recent seasons and has decided to retire after 201 games to protect his long-term health.

He told his teammates before practice Friday morning that he had played his last AFL game.

“Going into this season I knew it would probably be my last. I’ve had an ongoing shoulder problem for the past few years and I knew at some point I would have to make a decision,” Roughead said.

“For the past month, I’ve spent some time thinking about when to call. This is not a decision I am making because I want to, but a decision I am making for my long-term health and also for my family.”

The 31-year-old was a Premier League player with the Bulldogs and became a popular and sturdy defender with the Magpies after his arrival in 2019.

Collingwood defender Jordan Roughead has retired after 201 games with the Magpies and Western Bulldogs

Collingwood defender Jordan Roughead has retired after 201 games with the Magpies and Western BulldogsCredit:Michael Willson/AFL Photos

He only played one game in 2022 after suffered a significant shoulder injury in the preseason and hurt his finger when he returned against the Brisbane Lions in round five.

His absence was felt on defense where he formed a strong partnership with All-Australian defenseman Darcy Moore. His injury, a foot injury to rookie Charlie Dean and Mark Keane’s decision to return to Ireland in January, left the Magpies short of tall defenders.

Roughead’s retirement gives the Magpies the potential to make two rosters in next week’s mid-season draft; however, his decision was not based on giving Collingwood that extra choice, nor did the Magpies ask him to retire at this point to give them a second choice which sources said they should not use under any circumstances.

Jordan Roughead (right) and Bob Murphy celebrate the Bulldogs' premiership in 2016.

Jordan Roughead (right) and Bob Murphy celebrate the Bulldogs’ premiership in 2016.Credit:AFL Photos/Getty Images

Roughead played as a ruckman after the 2016 Premiership of the Bulldogs serious eye injury suffered in the pre-final that put him in doubt for the grand final.

He was then traded to the Magpies on the last day of the 2018 trading period as a bargain after 138 appearances for the Bulldogs.

Roughead was a popular and influential figure at Collingwood, rising to the leadership group where he influenced both the players’ performance on the field and the way they handled challenging issues arising from the Do Better report. He has been instrumental in formulating a response and has spoken on other social issues, most recently he lent his voice to sports tackling climate change


“Playing Footy gave me the opportunity to contribute to something bigger than just me and what I could ever achieve on my own. I’ve never been the strongest, strongest, or best kick. I found a way to squeeze out all the juice squeeze my lemon and be a part of something bigger than myself,” Roughead said.

“At the beginning of the year we talked about how we were going to honor this soccer jumper. I talked about how I’m going to support everyone in this room, and I’d be committed to that for the whole year.

“It doesn’t end now, and I will be here in some capacity until the end of the year.”

Roughead was assistant coach for Magpies’ AFLW team and Collingwood football manager Graham Wright confirmed that the 31-year-old would remain in the football program for the remainder of the season.

Crows optimistic Seedsman returns to play after concussion

Jon Pierik

Adelaide coach Matthew Nicks says he is optimistic that Paul Seedsman will return to football despite the talented wingman missing the entire 2022 season due to a concussion.

Paul Seedsman will not play a game this season due to a concussion, but the Crows are hopeful that he will return next year.

Paul Seedsman will not play a game this season due to a concussion, but the Crows are hopeful that he will return next year.Credit:Getty Images

Seedsman, 30, was injured in a collision during a workout in December and has experienced persistent migraines, headaches, nausea and dizziness.

The former magpie, who was moved to the crows’ inactive list on Thursday with injured skipper Rory Sloane, has recently been to Melbourne for more specialist advice but still don’t know if he will ever play again. However, Nicks said Friday that he hoped Seedsman would come back.

“I’m optimistic he will play. He wants to come back and play footy, but that challenge is going to be a physical and a fairly emotional ride for him over the next six months,” Nicks said.

“‘Seedo’ is a fantastic member of our football club, he is a fantastic person, so the last thing we want is to endanger him and the last thing he wants to do is endanger himself. He is progressing well, he is currently in a good headspace.

“But it will take time to physically get his body back to where it needs to be and then the mental challenge of getting out after a concussion like he’s had. It’s a shame for this year. But we’re not going to push him.”

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