Lions Fans Seething Over AFL’s Melbourne Fixture Snub

Lions fans are furious with the AFL today announcing that their club would play only four games in Melbourne in 2013, according to supporters advocacy group “The Lion’s Roar”.

The AFL has once again disregarded a long-standing arrangement guaranteeing a minimum of 6 Lions games in Melbourne each year, says The Lion’s Roar spokesperson Adam Staines.

“In 1996, the AFL approved a merger between the Fitzroy Lions and the Brisbane Bears which guaranteed ‘not less than 6’ home and away games to be scheduled in Melbourne each year.”

“This allowed Fitzroy supporters the opportunity to continue following their team.”
“This year's fixture is particularly galling for Lions supporters with their team’s four games in Melbourne marking an all-time low. To add salt to the wound they’re playing two Victorian teams interstate; the Hawks in Tasmania and the Demons in Darwin.”

The AFL has now failed to meet the 6 game minimum a total of nine times in the thirteen seasons since 2000, after initially honouring the agreement.

In supporting the Lions’ continued existence as a two town team, the AFL must ensure that Lions supporters in Melbourne have a reasonable opportunity to see their team play.  Having committed to 6 Lions games in Melbourne per year, the AFL is obligated to deliver on its commitment.

Joel Thompson, a Melbourne-based Lions member of 20 years, is dismayed by the AFL’s failure to honour that commitment.

“I come from a family of four generations of (Fitzroy and Brisbane) Lions supporters, so ensuring the Lions heritage continues in Melbourne means everything to me.”

“For this to happen, the AFL must guarantee the Lions at least 6 games in Melbourne each year. Unlike most supporters, we don't get to see our team play too often. We rely on the AFL doing the right thing by us, especially when it was such a key part of the merger.”

“Sadly though, they don't seem to care about those of us in Melbourne who love the Lions.”

The Brisbane Lions see virtually no financial benefit from Melbourne games. This goes some way to explaining why the Lions accept the continued poor treatment of its Melbourne based fans by the AFL, feeding perceptions that the club's annual request for 6 games in Melbourne is a window-dressing public relations exercise.

The Lion's Roar demands that the AFL correct its continued disregard for the thousands of Melbourne-based Brisbane Lions supporters.  We call on Andrew Demetriou to recognise the Lions' unique status as a two-town club by honouring the merger agreement guaranteeing a minimum of 6 home and away games in Melbourne annually.

Addendum:
Deed of Arrangement between Fitzroy Lions and Brisbane Bears, Clause 7.2(h).:

The Merged Club will play one half of the total number of home and away games per season at the Gabba and as many Melbourne based away premiership games as possible will be played at Optus Oval or the Melbourne Cricket Ground (but not less than 6) with any other away premiership games at any of Waverley, Optus Oval or the Melbourne Cricket Ground at which Melbourne based members of the Merged Club will have home ground status (in respect of which Brisbane Bears will make a contribution to gate receipts of an amount determined by AFL).