While an improvement on the 2013 fixture, the AFL has again failed to provide the Brisbane Lions with a minimum of 6 games in Melbourne in 2014, as required by the legal documentation signed when Brisbane and Fitzroy merged.
As the Lion's Roar revealed last year, the AFL signed an agreement in 1996 which guaranteed a minimum of 6 Lions games per season in Melbourne. While this agreement had never before been made public, it was consistent with the Deed of Company Arrangement put in place when Brisbane and Fitzroy merged their football operations.
The Lions Roar spokesperson Adam Staines says:
"We're happy that there has been some movement on this issue. This is a better outcome than we saw last year, which was completely unacceptable.
"However, as with last year, the Lions are being used as the AFL's vehicle to promote the game on the game's frontiers like New Zealand instead of being allowed to focus on our heartland. After a torrid off-season and a lean 10 years since our last flag, our club desperately needs to re-engage with its supporters in both Melbourne and Queensland.
"The Lions' Melbourne based supporters are integral to our continued viability. Whenever the club has played in Melbourne, the Roy Boys have shown themselves to be among the most passionate, rusted on barrackers that our club has. They are the most tangible link to the club's Fitzroy heritage, a link which is dear to all supporters. 6 games in Melbourne should be a mandatory minimum, not a stretch target which the AFL never really intends to reach.
"5 games in Melbourne plus 1 in Geelong looks like a reasonable outcome from the outside. However, our Melbourne based supporters tell us that Geelong games are notoriously difficult to get tickets to. So, in practical terms, the Geelong game is not really accessible to Lions supporters.
And the fact remains, Geelong isn't in Melbourne, which is what the AFL is legally obliged to deliver."
"The Lion's Roar want to help the Brisbane Lions re-engage with its supporters but we'll continue to have one arm tied behind our backs until the AFL does the right thing and schedules at least 6 games in Melbourne every year, without fail."
The Lion's Roar notes that Lions' chief executive Malcolm Holmes has welcomed the 2014 fixture. While we acknowledge that it is an improvement, we call on the club to continue to make every effort to ensure the AFL meets its legal obligation to schedule 6 Lions games in Melbourne.