Grand final fever attracts footy fans from across the globe

Fans from as far away as Europe and Asia will be among those cheering on the contenders in the AFL and NRL grand finals this weekend.

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One AFL fan in Melbourne said it was his family’s first time watching the grand final parade.

“We came all the way from the Philippines just to watch this,” he told SBS World News.

An Adelaide fan said it was worth the trip from the northern hemisphere to be in Melbourne.

“I made a deal with myself when I moved to France that if we ever make the Grand Final, I’d be here,” he said. 

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— Adelaide Crows (@Adelaide_FC) September 29, 2017

Adelaide fans fortunate enough to snare one of the 16,000 tickets allocated to members of the club have flocked to Melbourne this week in the hope the Crows can claim their first premiership in 19 years in Saturday’s clash with Richmond.

In Sydney, Melbourne Storm and North Queensland Cowboys fans will congregate on Sunday for the NRL grand final.

Big spenders

IBISWorld figures show footy finals are big-spending events, with estimates that in 2013 footy fans in both codes spent almost $600 million during the season-end showdowns across categories including domestic tourism, tickets, betting and pubs and bars.

This year a strong interstate element is at play as thousands of fans from three of the four participating teams travel to the games and splash cash on air fares, hotels and socialising.

Flying high 

Qantas has added four direct return flights between Townsville and Sydney this weekend plus an extra six return flights from Adelaide to Melbourne to seat around 3,700 extra travellers.

Virgin Australia has scheduled an extra five return flights between Adelaide and Melbourne that can seat 2,500 people and is working with the Cowboys to provide charter flights to Sydney.

In Melbourne, pubs close to both the MCG and nearby Punt Road Oval, the Tigers’ former home ground, will stage special events, with some charging $100 a ticket for rooftop catered parties.

Related

IBISWorld senior analyst Nick Tarrant said the Australian tourism industry is worth $125 billion and three quarters of that spending comes from domestic travellers.

“Things like the grand final in Melbourne and in Sydney and sporting events in general are drivers of tourism growth,” he said.

Visit Victoria chief executive Peter Bingeman said major events like the AFL grand final contribute significantly to the overall state tourism industry, which is worth an estimated $24 billion annually.

“I wouldn’t underestimate the under-riding branding impact these events have on Melbourne,” he said.

On the punt

More than 24,000 interstate and overseas visitors travelled to Sydney for last year’s NRL grand final, injecting more than $20 million into the NSW economy. And punters will wager millions on the AFL and NRL clashes, with online gambling driving a rise in betting since 2013 when punters waged $128 million on the AFL and NRL finals.

Mr Tarrant said Australians are forecast to wager $3.9 billion in 2017/18, up $900 million on a decade ago, fuelled by growth in betting on sports such as football.