The NRL has sold 52,000 tickets for Sunday’s Grand Final between Penrith Panthers and South Sydney Rabbitohs at Brisbane’s Suncorp Stadium.
But after a Covid outbreak in the city, the NRL has been forced to cut the capacity to 39,000, with 25 per cent of ticket purchasers being entitled to refunds.
Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk announced the return to stage-two Covid-19 restrictions across most areas of South-East Queensland, including Brisbane and the Gold Coast, as well as Townsville, on Thursday morning.
“We want to make sure this is not seeding in the community,” she said.
“We’ve got to put these restrictions in place to avoid a lockdown at this stage.
“We can get through this if we all do the right thing.”
She acknowledged that the fans affected would be disappointed that their Grand Final tickets would be ineligible, but the health advice meant that it was necessary.
“I know they’ll be disappointed but unfortunately this is what has to happen,” she said.
Both Grand Final teams were placed back under level-four biosecurity protocols as of 6.00pm on Wednesday Queensland time.
Who qualifies for the 75 per cent capacity will be determined by a first-come, first-served policy in each section, meaning those who were the first to snap up tickets would retain the right to attend, while those who got last-minute tickets are likely to miss out.
ARL Commission chairman Peter V’landys said: “We will be reducing the capacity to 75 per cent in accordance with the Level 2 health order issued by the Queensland government.
“It’s not our decision. The health order states we must reduce the crowd to 75 per cent, so we will abide by the Covid protocols.
“People who bought the tickets last will unfortunately be the ones to miss out. That’s how we will work out reducing the crowd numbers. We feel bad for the people who have bought tickets but it’s out of our control.
“We’ve been told the crowd for the Grand Final will remain at 75 per cent. We are happy with that situation, at least there will still be a decent sized crowd at Suncorp.”
A full report of Sunday’s NRL Grand Final will feature in Monday’s League Express.