THE mayors of Albury and Wangaratta are both keen to host an AFL match if ongoing COVID drama forces teams to stay in Victoria.
The prospect of regional clashes has been raised after restrictions across Australia forced club squads from Sydney, Perth, Brisbane and Adelaide to relocate to Victoria.
The state's Tourism, Sport and Major Events Minister Martin Pakula told the ABC the government had "some interest in talking to the AFL...about games that might be able to go to regional parts of the state".
"If that was a conversation that people wanted to have, we certainly see some value in that because that's great for regional communities," Mr Pakula said.
Albury mayor Kevin Mack and his Wangaratta counterpart Dean Rees said council staff had liaised with AFL officials about staging matches at Lavington Sports Ground and Norm Minns Oval respectively.
"I'd be hopeful we would get something, when we've hosted matches before," Cr Rees said.
Cr Mack said: "Council has had ongoing discussions with the AFL about the potential to host matches at Lavington Sports Ground and we remain keen to explore any possibilities that might arise.
"We have one of the best venues in regional Australia and a strong fan base so we'd welcome opportunities to consider hosting matches at Lavington, subject of course to being able to meet COVID-safety requirements as outlined under public health orders."
Albury would have the hurdle of meeting NSW-Victorian COVID requirements that Wangaratta does not.
NSW MP for Albury Justin Clancy was enthusiastic about Lavington being a host.
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"Albury Council haven't reached out to me, but I would be more than happy to lend support to it," Mr Clancy said.
The AFL is open-minded to matches in regional areas given the fluid situation with COVID.
However, there would be logistical issues to overcome.
One of the them is limited availability of outside broadcasting trucks which are needed at grounds for television coverage.
Travel arrangements for such a vehicle would be tricky given the need for them to also be used at Melbourne and Geelong grounds in addition to regional ovals.
There would also be COVID protocols to meet.
The AFL is organising venues on a week-to-week basis given the turbulent COVID situation, so a final decision on the use of regional venues for the round after this weekend is unlikely to be made until next week.
The Victorian Government's assistance could come through its Regional Events Fund which it has used to support Geelong's GMHBA Stadium hosting a relocated Sydney-West Coast match this Sunday.
Ballarat's Mars Stadium, which already has a deal to stage Western Bulldogs matches, has also been flagged for relocated games.
Cr Rees last year made a radical call for the AFL grand final to be hosted in Wangaratta, a move which drew the attention of Melbourne media and had the league's chief executive Gil McLachlan quizzed about it on The Front Bar television show.
"We will certainly make our point to the AFL about why Wangaratta is a great place to host a number of matches," Cr Rees said.
"The AFL know what we're about given my interviews 12 months ago about hosting the grand final."
Cr Rees said Norm Minns Oval could host 15,000 and the nearby upgraded aquatic centre could be used for training and cooldown sessions.
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