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MCG allowed 85,000 crowd for AFL matches

MELBOURNE (Reuters) - The Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) could host crowds of 85,000 for Australian Rules football matches this weekend after authorities raised an attendance cap at the stadium on Friday.

The Australian Football League (AFL) had hoped the 100,000-seat MCG might be allowed full capacity for Sunday's traditional ANZAC Day blockbuster between the Collingwood Magpies and Essendon Bombers.

But authorities opted for caution, adding only 10,000 to the previous crowd cap of 75,000.

Other stadiums in Victoria state will remain at 75% capacity announced last month.

"The announcement of an extra 10,000 tickets at both matches this weekend is a great result for football fans in Victoria and highlights the hard work of fans adhering to 'Covidsafe' rules across the first six rounds of the season,” AFL Executive General Manager Kylie Rogers said in a statement.

The Melbourne Demons play champions Richmond Tigers at the MCG on Saturday before Sunday's match on ANZAC Day, a national day of remembrance in Australia and New Zealand marking the anniversary of the April 25 landing of Allied forces on the Gallipoli peninsula in 1915.

The AFL declared the ANZAC Day clash a "sell-out" this week before the new allotment of tickets, raising the prospect of a world record stadium attendance for a sporting event since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

India recorded crowds of 67,200 and 66,352 for the first two Twenty20 cricket matches against England at the 132,000-capacity Narendra Modi Stadium in Ahmedabad last month.

The AFL match between West Coast Eagles and Collingwood at Perth Stadium last Friday drew 54,159, the biggest for a sporting event in the southern hemisphere since the pandemic.

(Reporting by Ian Ransom; Editing by Peter Rutherford)