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Top Five Stories Of 2020: AFL

Top Five Stories Of 2020: AFL

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or the seventh part of the 2020 in review series, Ministry of Sport continues to highlight the top five stories from each major sport in 2020, this time looking at the AFL.


After the Richmond Football Club won the AFL Grand Final, Ministry of Sport spoke exclusively with Richmond co-major sponsor, nib health funds chief executive of Australian Residents Health Insurance, Edward Close, who explained how on-field success translates to partnership value.

Close said: “The return really does drive higher brand exposure and awareness at a national level… we’re seeing strong correlation in terms of Richmond’s growth and nib’s growth in terms of our brand trust, brand consideration and awareness.”


Despite being the cause of all the following stories, the AFL suspending its 2020 season in March and cancelling the AFLW season mid-finals, simply does not top the remaining entries in the top five stories of 2020.

When announcing the cancellation of the season, AFL CEO, Gillon McLachlan, said: “To say it [COVID-19] is the most serious threat to our game in 100 years is an understatement.”

This decision led to the AFL cutting its workforce by around 20% when it returned to action as part of a restructure in response to a projected $400 million loss of income due to COVID-19.


The 2020 Toyota AFL Grand Final at the Gabba in Queensland between Richmond and Geelong recorded a 30% increase in viewership compared to the 2019 Grand Final, capping of a season of broadcast growth despite the many difficulties faced by the AFL.

The Grand Final recorded the highest average audience since the 2016 Grand Final with 3.8 million viewers, marking a season in which the AFL reported more than 77 million viewers for the Premiership season and more than 12 million viewers for the first three weeks of the AFL Finals Series.


After all AFL teams were forced to move to either Queensland, Western Australia or South Australia due to the rising number of COVID-19 cases in Victoria, the AFL announced Queensland would host the 2020 AFL Grand Final at the Gabba.

Brisbane Lions sponsor, GVC Australia (Ladbrokes/Neds) executive director of corporate development, Karl deKroo, told Ministry of Sport the decision for the Gabba to host the grand final is a “just reward” for what Queensland had done to support the AFL season.

“It is a great result for Queensland to be awarded the rights to the AFL Grand Final, and a just reward given what the state has contributed to enable the season to continue as it has,” deKroo told Ministry of Sport.


The AFL, not long after its return to action, announced a broadcast rights extension deal with the Seven Network through to 2024.

Just before the close of 2020, the AFL also announced a broadcast extension with Foxtel and Telstra through to the 2024 season, with all three broadcast deals seeing the AFL receive $946 million in total over the 2023 and 2024 seasons.

McLachlan said the deals are a signal of strength of the future of the league in the post-COVID-19 world.

“After a challenging year, this is a great way to finish off 2020 and is a massive vote of confidence in the AFL, our players, and our code at all levels,” McLachlan said.

“It provides greater financial certainty in the years ahead, and ensures our fans continue to have the ability to watch men’s and women’s footy wherever they are,” he said.

To view part six of the Ministry of Sport 2020 in review series looking at the top five stories of 2020 for rugby league, click here, otherwise, keep an eye out on the Ministry of Sport website and social media channels for the next release in the series.

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