NRL Grand Final 2021: tickets, Queensland Covid outbreak, Suncorp Stadium, refund, Penrith Panthers vs South Sydney Rabbitohs, update

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ARLC chair Peter V’landys has conceded postponing this weekend’s NRL Grand Final is an option if fans are locked out.

ARLC chair Peter V’landys has conceded postponing Sunday’s Grand Final is an option if all fans are locked out as the governing body deals with Queensland’s Covid-19 outbreak.

It comes after Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk announced on Thursday that large-scale sporting events in Brisbane and Townsville will be restricted to 75 per cent capacity.

V’landys told AAP that Friday will be “crucial” as the NRL prepares contingencies — including postponement — should southeast Queensland got into lockdown, keeping all fans away from the blockbuster clash.

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“We’re in the hands of the Queensland government, naturally, and we’re confident in their ability,” he said.

“But we’ve got contingency plans for every scenario and we’ve just got to take each day as it comes and look at what’s going on and make the appropriate decisions

“At this stage it’s all systems go for Suncorp on Sunday with the capped crowd of 75 per cent and we’re being advised that that’s not going to change.

“We’re hoping the outbreak doesn’t get worse and we stay on course.

“If there was to be no crowd we’d have to look at the whole situation, so I really can’t say.

“I don’t want to talk on the hypothetical. We’ve got contingency plans ready for all scenarios.

“We have to look at our options in that regard (if there were no crowds), do we play it or do we postpone it?

“There is all these different options.

“We haven’t sat down as a commission with (CEO) Andrew (Abdo) to finalise what we’re going to go but we have a number of contingencies to consider if worse comes to worse.

“(Friday) is crucial to see what happens because we’re getting close, but we’re still quietly confident that we’ll go ahead on Sunday.”

The NRL has Townsville’s Queensland Country Bank Stadium on standby should the grand final need to be relocated.

The Sydney Morning Herald is reporting that a fly-in, fly-out method is a possibility for the Rabbitohs and Panthers on Sunday.

Meanwhile, V’landys is determined for the game to be played in front of fans, making the possibility of a snap lockdown in southeast Queensland detrimental to where the decider is played.

“We are not going to play without a crowd,” V’landys told the Herald.

“For us, it’s all about the atmosphere. It’s a grand final, it’s a major event and we have a number of contingency plans.

“You can never predict with any certainty with Covid, but at this stage the government is confident we can proceed with 75 per cent (crowds). We move ahead accordingly.”

It was confirmed earlier that 13,000 fans would be barred from attending Suncorp Stadium and would have their tickets refunded due to Queensland’s new restrictions.

Six new cases were recorded in the state on Thursday, including one in Townsville.

The grand final is already sold out after 52,000 tickets were purchased.

“It’s going to be disappointing for people but we have to take the health advice,” Palaszczuk said.

“The health advice is to move to stage two (restrictions). Stage two says 75 per cent capacity, that’s what it will be.”

As for how the NRL decides who misses out, the league confirmed tickets will automatically be refunded for the final 25 per cent of fans who purchased seats in each Grand Final selling allocation.

“We had two allocations of Grand Final tickets. The first was to the general public and the second was aimed at fans of both Grand Final teams,’’ NRL CEO Andrew Abdo said.

“The fairest way to determine who can attend the game is by prioritising the first 75% to purchase tickets in each allocation. Any fan who no longer wants to attend will also be able to access a refund.

“I want to acknowledge fans who will now miss out on attending the Grand Final. I know you had been counting down the days to a once in a lifetime experience and this will be difficult news to take, but this decision is out of our hands.”

The NRL now faces a nervous wait as to whether the grand final goes ahead in Brisbane, with Covid-19 test over the next two days key.

“It’s going to be critical, the next 24 to 48 hours, if we see any seeding in the community,” Palaszczuk said.

“As soon as (chief health officer) Dr Young says we need to go into a lockdown, we will.”

Abdo paid credit to the efforts of the Queensland Government in keeping the community safe and ensuring the continuity of the competition.

“We’ve got a great partnership with the Queensland Government and I’d like to acknowledge the Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk and Chief Health Officer Dr Jeannette Young for the way they have managed the pandemic and worked with us to ensure the continuity of the competition whilst keeping the community safe,’’ he said.

“Suncorp Stadium is one of the best venues in the world and with 39,000 passionate fans at the stadium, I’ve got no doubt there will be a great atmosphere on Sunday night.”

Originally published as Postponement or fly-in, fly-out both options as NRL faces ‘crucial’ 24 hours

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