The Gather Round is staying in South Australia until 2026 and the state will host the “festival of football” for the next three years. AFL chief executive officer Gillon McLachlan and South Australia Premier Peter Malinauskas shared the big announcement with the people at the Adelaide Oval but also divided the football world in doing so.
The AFL Plans to “Build out the Concept in South Australia”
McLachlan said that the engagement in South Australia helped produce “some of the best days and events” of the AFL. The chief executive attributed the Gather Round’s success to the fact “everyone in football got behind the idea,” from fans and players to clubs and corporate partners.
He felt it was really important “to continue to build out the concept in South Australia” but said they were planning to take the festival of football to other states too.
Premier Malinauskas was delighted with the “stunning success” of the inaugural Gather Round and was happy to see it return to the state until the end of 2026, especially as it delivered massive benefits for South Australia.
He also praised South Australians for being a big part of the success story and claimed that, once they had more time to plan, they would make the whole thing “even bigger and better.” Premier Malinauskas thanked the AFL chief executive, the football community, councils, public servants, and everyone else who worked hard to deliver the event in such a short time.
The Gather Round Should Move Around the Country
Reports said that Sydney was initially the favourite to host the inaugural Gather Round. However, the pitch from the government in South Australia reportedly made it impossible for AFL officials to look past them.
But not everyone is happy that South Australia is the only state enjoying the Gather Round spoils. North Melbourne Kangaroos coach Alastair Clarkson said ahead of his team’s game on Saturday that the whole thing created a buzz around the city and that was great for South Australia and its economy.
However, coach Clarkson felt it would have been better if the event wasn’t “locked in” to just one state. He thought the AFL might face some problems, as they would be hesitant to move something so successful to another state, but that other states would do “just as good a job,” according to the coach.
Brisbane Lions coach Chris Fagan shared Clarkson’s sentiments. He said that the buzz created around Adelaide was reason enough for the Gather Round to stay in South Australia. However, he admitted that the festival of football “should move around the country.”