Bombers and Saints told to play lost time
An Australian Football League match between Essendon and St Kilda was called off after the arena was plunged into darkness here on Saturday night.
Hostile fans lit spot fires in the stands, invaded the oval and ripped out behind posts when a power blackout at Waverley Park halted play 20 minutes into the third term.
The AFL Commission yesterday decided to complete the game - which Essendon led by 20 points at the time of the interruption - tomorrow night.
Many commentators expected the league would award both sides two premiership points.
But AFL chief executive Ross Oakley said the best scenario was to complete the match and the time remaining in the game, about 24 minutes plus time on, would be played out on tomorrow night at Waverley Park with Essendon resuming with a lead of 9.9 (63) to 6.7 (43).
He said the commission had considered several other options such as declaring a result or replaying the entire game, but the logistics of the problem pointed to the chosen solution.
'We didn't want to declare a result because of all the disadvantages to both teams,' Oakley said. 'It became clear in our minds, and a fairly clear option, that we should play the rest of the game and it's best to get it out the way as quickly as possible.' The remaining time will be split into two halves, with a normal quarter time break, both sides can select new teams and admittance will be free.
St Kilda president Andrew Plaympton said his club would stand by the AFL's decision, although the Saints did not want to replay or complete the game.
He said both clubs should have been awarded four points.
'It's not our preferred option, we thought four points should've been given to both teams,' Plympton said.
'Our concern with this tough call is the welfare of our players who have to come up again on Saturday against Richmond.' To alleviate the strain on the players, both clubs will be allowed to choose new lineups for the final 24 minutes of the game and the Saints' match against Richmond on Friday night at the MCG has now been pushed back to Saturday afternoon at the same venue.
'It's going to be hard enough for them to come up, but we've given them a full list of players to select,' Oakley said.