Contributed by: Brett Northey
The Melbourne Herald Sun has reported that the 2007 AFL exhibition match at The Oval in London is unlikely to go ahead due to a reluctance by AFL teams to play. This is consistent with WFN's information that the Western Bulldogs were keen to play in the annual fixture but that the AFL couldn't persuade any other clubs to take up the challenge. The timing is undeniably poor for AFL clubs as it immediately follows the end of the season and many players undergo minor surgery to fix up injuries that they carry through the year. With pre-season training starting just 10 weeks after the matches end, there's a very small window for surgery and recreation before work begins for the coming campaign. 2006 saw Port Adelaide take only a skeleton squad to London and the writing was on the wall then, despite good crowds regularly turning out.
It's a disappointing outcome given the match is the one chance each year for Australian Football to get significant exposure in England, though having said that, it has obviously been an expat event in the main. It's also unfortunate because the match has been preceded by an international between Britain and Ireland, and half-time has featured junior matches. Hopefully the event can be staged again in 2008 and perhaps a better time of the year can be found - something not too easy in the crowded AFL calendar.
In the story the AFL's general manager of football operations, Adrian Anderson, confirmed the AFL is looking at games in Dubai, Los Angeles and South Africa. Most of these have been reported as likely to be pre-season matches, rather than end of season as in the London case.
The Herald Sun article is: London's exhibition game off radar by David Reed.
World Footy News