AFTER hosting a match in Darwin for the past 10 years, the Melbourne Football Club will bring the home game back to the MCG in 2020, as announced on Wednesday.
CEO Gary Pert said this was a fantastic result for the Club, with the members at the heart of the decision.
“Supporters have made it very clear to the Club they would love to see the Darwin home game return to the MCG as soon as possible, so they can watch their team live and share in the excitement,” he told Melbourne Media.
“This is something we have been working on with the AFL for quite some time. However, it was important the timing coincided with the opportunity to return the game to our traditional home, the MCG, rather than other alternatives.”
Melbourne will retain its established home game in Alice Springs for at least the next four years, announcing a new agreement with AFLNT and the NT Government.
The Club's AFLW side will also play at TIO Traeger Park until at least 2023.
“It is important for supporters to appreciate that Alice Springs is a critical part of the Club’s long-term strategy,” Pert said.
“Our players have really taken ownership of this game and truly believe it gives them a home ground advantage.
“Not only is the home game financially significant, it is also our Next Generation Academy region and the Club will continue to run community and development programs in an effort to find emerging talent.”
The Melbourne Academy, which encourages and enhances participation in the game within Indigenous communities, will also continue its important work in the region.
Pert said the development of the local talent was a big focus for the Club, with the hope of seeing these young men and women representing the Demons in the future.
“A lot of work goes into creating these opportunities, and being able to first inspire the youth, before providing a talent pathway through the Academy, is something we’re really passionate about,” he said.
“Giving these kids a chance to reach their full potential is incredibly rewarding, and we’re excited to discover the next Territory-based superstar.”
While creating a pathway for young footballers is a priority for the Club, Pert reinforced Melbourne’s involvement in the Red Centre extends far beyond the playing field.
“It’s more than just a game of football for our players, coaches and staff. Our trip to the nation’s heartland allows us to immerse ourselves in the community and really give back,” he said.
“We’re really proud of the meaningful contributions our Club makes to this region of Central Australia, from grassing a red dirt oval in Santa Teresa to eradicating the eye disease Trachoma through our player-led education programs.
“As we continue this work in 2020, we’d like to acknowledge the Northern Territory Government for its ongoing support of the game and also allowing us to have such a positive impact in the community.”
Details of Melbourne’s home games at the MCG and TIO Traeger Park will be revealed at the release of the 2020 AFL fixture.