AFL CEO Gillon McLachlan has this morning confirmed rumours that in 2017 an AFL game will be played for premiership points in Bali, Indonesia.
Nicknamed the ‘Bintang Cup’ the leagues two newest franchises, the Gold Coast Suns and GWS Giants will play the first official AFL match in Asia. The game will be held at Ngurah Rai Stadium in Denpasar, which has a capacity of 12,000.
A date is yet to be confirmed for the match, but McLachlan confirmed it would be held in July, coinciding with mid-year school holidays and Bali’s peak tourist season.
The response to the announcement has been mixed.
Fans associations and some media commentators have welcomed the initiative, which is the second international foray for the league following St Kilda’s Anzac Day fixture in New Zealand from 2013 – 15.
However critics of the ‘Bintang Cup’ have slammed the proposal saying it will be a security and logistical nightmare. The AFL have assured the public they have been in consultation with both the Australian and Indonesian governments, local authorities and private security firms and that security will be the highest priority. The Turnbull government has also announced $10 million of Australian Aid money earmarked for Indonesian projects will be diverted to support the match.
Finally, the AFL is working closely with official airline partner Virgin Australia to offer family holiday packages to Bali in support of the match. Some inside the league believe that with the right packages and marketing the match could draw a crowd higher than the 6,000 – 10,000 who currently attend GWS games in Blacktown.