THE Gunnedah Bulldogs will not need to erect a 500m temporary fence in order to host this year's AFL North West grand final thanks to state government intervention.
Deputy Premier John Barilaro has gone into bat for the club, which felt it would have had to pay for the fence to be erected in order to be compliant with the Public Health Order.
Mr Barilaro told 2GB's Ben Fordham the club would be given an exemption of having a crowd of over 20 patrons.
"They will not have to put a fence up and what we will do is work with them on ensuring social distancing rules are followed," Mr Barilaro said.
"You may have a crowd of 200-300 and you have to go to that expense, it's madness.
"Particularly in areas where they've never had a case."
Bulldogs president Hamish Russell said the decision was "a common-sense decision".
"Honestly, this has been a massive weight lifted from our shoulders and I feel like we've been unleashed," Mr Russell told the Leader.
"We are a volunteer-driven club and the only way we could see being able to host the grand final was to put up a fence to ensure we kept the crowd under 500 people.
"It would have been a massive financial cost to us and a burden on our limited volunteer base, so for this decision to be made is outstanding."
Before the exemption, under the Public Health Order, the club would be responsible for ensuring no more than 500 spectators were at Wolseley Oval at any time during grand final day.
If the club was unable to comply, the season's finale on September 26 may have been relocated to Tamworth or Inverell.
A NSW Health spokesperson said the club had not been directed to erect the fence, but it was just its interpretation of the Public Health Order.
NSW Health has not issued a directive requiring the Gunnedah AFL club (or any other sporting organisation) to erect a 500-metre fencing perimeter," the spokesperson said.
"For events held at a major recreation facility, including sporting activities attended by large number of people, organisers must comply with a COVID-19 Safety Plan which creates a safe environment for all attending and working at the event.
"The COVID-19 Safety Plan is available at the NSW Government website. "