IF the AFL is serious about finally taking the ‘’footy free zone’’ sign off Good Friday, it needs to be careful about the decisions it makes when coming up with its fixture.
This is a big moment for the league, as it has a chance to think more with its heart than its wallet and has a chance to win a lot of ‘’brownie points’’ with the public if they get this right.
Remember, this is a competition that is still picking up the pieces for a disastrous recent period of its history which involved a supplement scandal, tanking and anti-social behaviour.
When deciding who to fixture for what is likely to be a twilight or night fixture in the opening round of 2015, it needs to look beyond dollars and ratings figures.
It needs to allow a ''blockbuster event’’ to be created, rather than go with those who already star in their own and it has the chance to make the occasion a ''good news story’’, rather than seemingly further enhance the cause of the richer clubs and disadvantage the poor.
Essendon has been touted as one of the participants, unbelievably so in my eyes.
The Bombers have Anzac Day and Dreamtime at the G already on their football calendar.
They are two fixtures this club has helped create off its own back, for the AFL to hand them another one almost defies logic.
And Essendon’s recent activities aren’t exactly ones which should be rewarded.
For me, you must also rule out Collingwood (who have Anzac Day and the Queen’s Birthday holidays).
But one team that has to be part of it is North Melbourne, despite the fact it is not a ''sexy’’ option like some other clubs.
The Kangaroos have lobbied for about three decades play on Good Friday, to be overlooked due to the fact they are not a ''big club’’ would be one hell of kick in the guts.
If you must have a ''big team’’ taking part, have them play against the Roos, rather than two ''power clubs’’ playing each other.
If you keep Geelong and Hawthorn on Easter Monday, then it really comes out of Carlton or Richmond.
However, those teams would have to bypass their ''season opener’’ status (which they were forced to this year due to the unavailability of the MCG) for this to happen.
The AFL (and Channel Seven) would look at it from ticket sales and a ratings perspective, but surely any stand-alone game on Good Friday, even if it was North Melbourne versus the Western Bulldogs, would attract some interest.
Whatever the outcome, North Melbourne must be one of the two teams involved.
The league has allowed teams such as Essendon and Collingwood to create their own marquee occasions, locking other clubs out of what are revenue-raising clashes.
It must allow North to grow Good Friday as its own, especially as it has been banging down the door for so long wanting to.
It would be incredibly hypocritical not allow them to.