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AFL greats weigh in on Gillon McLachlan crowd action

AFL CEO Gillon McLachlan has finally addressed the issue of crowd behaviour and security across the country in recent weeks.

It’s led to a number of fans venting their frustration at not being able to watch their team play without having ‘big brother’ watching.

While, the issue also escalated over the weekend with a security guard threatening to break up an on-field scuffle between Heath Shaw and Jack Ziebell in the Giants’ win over North Melbourne on Sunday at Blundstone Arena.

A number of experts, players and former players have all had their opinion on it, prompting McLachlan to speak at a press conference earlier on Tuesday.

“We want our fans to come to the footy and be themselves, equally we want the men, women and children at our games to feel safe,” McLachlan said.

“We will make sure our stadiums get the balance right.

“I won’t apologise for making footy a safe place.”

Richmond star Alex Rance earlier weighed in on the issue on Halftime believing there is a line where the AFL must not cross to override fan engagement.

“I think the AFL in having such a big influence on week to week events currently, it’s probably something Gil needs to have a look at,” Rance said.

“When the AFL becomes the spotlight, I think that’s when it becomes a bit of an issue and it needs to be addressed – maybe they’re doing too much.

“The fan engagement is a really interesting piece because you don’t want to deter people from coming to the football and being emotional because that what makes the game so great.

“Obviously there’s a line and you have to think about families and things like that too.

“So it’s a tough one to make a call on, but Gil and his team are a smart enough body to work it out.”

Rance who tore his ACL in the Tigers’ round one win over Carlton has spent the season on the sidelines but does hope to return at some point in 2019.

The key defender has played 200 games since making his debut in 2009, while he has just released his own book titled ‘Rabbit’s Hop’.

Essendon legend Matthew Lloyd also admitted the AFL did get it wrong in round 13.

“They got it wrong on the weekend,” Lloyd said.

“There’s been some ugly brawls in the crowd of recent times and there’s been some umpire abuse from fans and all that sort of thing.

“They beefed up security last week, but it got to a point where people were actually quite intimidated by the number of security walking up and down the aisles and it took away from the actual enjoyment for a lot of people at the football.

“I don’t hang Gil or the AFL on what they tried to do, they just got it wrong in terms of the way they went about it.

“It’s just about stripping it back a little bit.”

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