Forget the red carpet, the AFL’s Brownlow Medal count is going ‘virtual’ in 2020

The AFL has announced the 2020 Brownlow Medal count will be conducted as a “virtual event” with no standalone ceremony because of COVID-19 restrictions.

The AFL’s best and fairest award ceremony is traditionally held as a gala event in Melbourne featuring more than 1,000 guests on the Monday evening prior to the grand final.

The league released a statement on Wednesday evening confirming it had opted for a “made-for-TV event” to take place on October 18, which is the Sunday before the grand final.

AFL chief executive Gillon McLachlan will be in Queensland to read the votes on the evening, with the Seven Network to broadcast the event.

“The Charles Brownlow Medal is our game’s highest individual honour and continues to be the most prestigious night of the AFL calendar,” AFL commercial manager Kylie Rogers said in a statement.

“It’s incredibly difficult to get people together in indoor event spaces in a responsible manner given the current environment, and the community’s safety has been at the forefront of every decision we’ve made.

“While the glamour of the red carpet will be missed this year, we are looking forward to delivering a special format made specifically for the broadcast audience at home, so our fans can continue to celebrate their heroes and their achievements this year.”

A man in a lairy suit holds the train of a ridiculously long white dress belonging to his partner.A man in a lairy suit holds the train of a ridiculously long white dress belonging to his partner.
The red carpet has been a feature of the Brownlow Medal ceremony for a number of years.(AAP: Julian Smith)

The decision to alter the Brownlow Medal count is the latest change to tradition the AFL has been forced to make in light of coronavirus.

The grand final will be held at the Gabba in Brisbane on October 24, the first time the season decider will be staged outside Melbourne in the VFL/AFL’s history.

It will also be played at night, instead of in the traditional afternoon timeslot.

A Brisbane Lions AFL player runs with the ball in both hands in front of his teammates against the Adelaide Crows.A Brisbane Lions AFL player runs with the ball in both hands in front of his teammates against the Adelaide Crows.
Lions star Lachie Neale (centre) is expected by many pundits to take out the Brownlow Medal.(AAP: Darren England)

Brisbane Lions midfielder Lachie Neale is the favourite to win the Brownlow Medal award, which is being handed out for the 93rd time.

Fremantle’s Nat Fyfe is the reigning Brownlow Medal winner, having claimed the honour for the second time in his career last season.