Richmond triple-premiership stars Trent Cotchin and Jack Riewoldt are among a host of high-profile AFL figures giving the thumbs down to the late grand final time slot, despite it proving to be a television ratings winner.
Host broadcaster Seven reported an average national audience of 3.812 million, which it said was 30 per cent up on last year and the biggest grand final audience since 2016.
It came after AFL chief executive Gillon McLachlan finally got his wish to see a season decider played under lights, with the traditional 2.30pm time slot pushed back to 7.30pm AEDT.
The decision was cause for heated debate amongst football supporters after being announced in September, and the future of the start time is yet to be determined.
"I know that the ratings were through the roof, so clearly from a broadcasting point of view that's a bonus," Cotchin said on Sunday.
"From all reports, I didn't get to see the entertainment, but that was a plus as well.
"But I love the day game. I grew up playing footy during the day and there's nothing better than a red Sherrin at the MCG - albeit the Gabba is a special place too - on a Saturday afternoon.
"It's the romance. For me that's what feels the norm."
The Gabba produced a spectacular setting at night, with a lighting show and fireworks part of the pre-match and halftime entertainment as well as the post-match celebrations.
But Riewoldt felt the traditional afternoon slot was preferable because players and fans did not have to wait as long for the action to get underway.
He joked that many supporters were "half-cut" by the time they arrived at the Gabba for the bounce down at 6.30pm local time.
"I probably would prefer a day grand final, to be honest," Riewoldt said.
"It's a completely different spectacle, and great that I've experienced both, but I'm really not fussed too much.
"The game's growing and evolving and this year's obviously been a different one, but we've been able to trial some stuff going forward.
"Whilst it's been financially difficult for the AFL I think there's some really positive lessons that have been learnt over the last six months."
Richmond chief executive Brendon Gale thought the night time slot was "pretty good", pointing to the television ratings as a key factor to be considered in future decisions around the grand final start time.
"It felt like a grand final," Gale said after the game.
"As a code we have a responsibility to take the game to as many eyeballs as possible and, gee, there would have been a lot watching tonight at three-quarter time.
"But at the end of the day they could play at 6am, I don't care."
Australian Associated Press