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Pies fume as Swans abandon Olympic Park

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UPDATED: Collingwood have labelled Sydney disrespectful and unprofessional, after the Swans moved their opening-round AFL clash from ANZ Stadium to the SCG.

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The Magpies and their fans are seething about the Swans’ late notice of the move, with the March 26 fixture coinciding with Easter Saturday and consequentially limited accommodation options in the harbour city.

Making matters worse, Collingwood CEO Gary Pert said the club only became aware of the 18-kilometre move when fans alerted them on social media on Monday before they phoned the game’s governing body.

“It’s an indictment on the AFL and the Swans,” he told SEN Radio today.

“For the Swans to relocate without any communication is not only disrespectful but unprofessional and inappropriate… the game is far more professional than that. We’ll want answers and we want compensation.”

Pert said the club had been inundated by fans complaining about the short-notice of the shift, while the football department traditionally makes different travel arrangements for matches played at Moore Park as opposed to Sydney’s west.

“The AFL is trying to work with us but they don’t have any solutions either,” he said.

“If it’s the most expensive accommodation in Sydney that will be fine and the Sydney Swans and AFL can foot the bill.”

The Swans said they had been working on the switch since November, but discussions between the parties only intensified in the past three weeks.

However, club president Andrew Pridham made light of the Magpies fracas.

“I wake up every morning worrying about Collingwood so I’m deeply disturbed,” he joked.

“I’m sure they’ll be fine, we’ve moved the game from Homebush to Moore Park, not to Newcastle… we’ve got perfectly good roads and I’m sure in 20 minutes or so they’ll be there.”

The match is one of three to be shifted from the Olympic Stadium, with matches against Essendon (round seven) and Carlton (round 18) also moved as the Swans make the SCG their exclusive AFL home.

Sydney boss Andrew Ireland is confident the move won’t alienate their fans in the west of the city and cede that area to the Giants, having signed a 30-year agreement with the SCG Trust in November for the iconic venue to host all of their AFL home games from 2017.

 

However, there could still be at least one more Sydney game at ANZ, as Ireland said the stadium would be used if the Swans hosted a finals match this year.

“It [the SCG] is clearly a favourite spot for our members and supporters and we just thought that if we could get it back here a year early it would be great for everyone,” Ireland said outside the SCG.

He wasn’t concerned shifting games to the SCG would result in the Swans losing members in western Sydney and give the Giants a free run in that area.

“The ones [Swans members] out west we know still enjoy coming to the SCG,” Ireland said.

“All our research shows the crowds that come here have got a big western influence as well, so we’re really confident they will come to the SCG.”

In a statement ANZ Stadium management said it had “agreed to enter into good faith negotiations with the Swans but only on the basis that ANZ Stadium’s valued members and corporate clients would be well catered for.”

An agreement was subsequently reached where ANZ members could access three Swans games at the SCG over the next three years.

Although conceding there had been issues with the ANZ Stadium surface for some AFL games, Swans’ co-captain Jarrad McVeigh emphasised the venue still held plenty of good memories for the players.

“We’ve had some amazing moments out at ANZ,” McVeigh said.

“We’ve played all our finals out there over a number of years and [won] prelim finals that have got us into grand finals.”

The Swans are set to have a full set of home fixtures at the SCG for the first time since 2001.

“We love running out at the SCG when it’s a packed house and most games will be packed this year, so those types of things the boys will really get a good kick out of,” McVeigh said.

McVeigh said he was still in doubt for the round one game as he continues his recovery from knee surgery.

-AAP

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