The family of Ron Barassi has accepted an offer from the Victorian government to host a state memorial, as the AFL weighs up renaming the premiership cup in honour of the football great, who died aged 87 on Saturday.
League chiefs will consult clubs and key industry figures in coming days before deciding how to acknowledge Barassi and the AFL Commission will make a final call, with the grand final looming next week.
“It’s hard to imagine a bigger or more significant figure in the history of Australian rules than Ron Barassi,” outgoing AFL CEO Gillon McLachlan said on Monday. “There were his exploits on the field, off the field and more broadly as an innovator and someone incredibly progressive.
“His legacy is being considered. There is, I know, a lot of push for renaming the premiership cup. There are other ways to remember him. Those things are being discussed.”
Barassi played more than 200 games and won six premierships with Melbourne, and then won four premierships as a coach – two with Carlton and two with North Melbourne. He shares that record of 10 premiership involvements with Norm Smith, another Melbourne great.
McLachlan played a straight bat when asked for his own opinion on whether the premiership cup should be renamed after Barassi.
“I don’t think it’s appropriate for me to express my view at the moment, other than to say I believe Ron Barassi needs to be honoured in some way,” McLachlan said. “There are a variety of ways and I know the focus is on the renaming of the premiership cup. That will have different views.
“We’ll work through the process with our clubs and ultimately it will be a Commission decision. But I do think he needs to be acknowledged in the same way that Norm Smith has been or Jock McHale.”
Smith and McHale both have grand final day awards named after them.
When announcing the state memorial, Daniel Andrews, the Victorian premier, said: “The word legend is used a lot. But nobody deserves it quite like Ron Barassi. He didn’t just play the game – he reshaped it. And how fitting that Friday night’s game was a cliffhanger between the Dees and the Blues.”
Andrews said the Department of Premier and Cabinet will work with Barassi’s family and details will be announced in due course.
The AFL is also considering a tribute to Barassi on grand final day this year.
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