Victoria is having a public holiday on grand final eve

The 2014 AFL Grand Final between Sydney and Hawthorn. Photo: Quinn Rooney/ Getty.

Victoria has a new public holiday — AFL grand final eve.

Small business minister Philip Dalidakis declared the October 2 holiday yesterday saying it’s “a great opportunity to celebrate Australia’s national game and spend more time with our family, friends and loved ones”.

However “Football Friday” has copped some criticism from business owners who don’t want to pay penalty rates, and opposition MPs who “can’t see any worth in a grand final public holiday” in the football-obsessed state.

The Australian Retailers Association (ARA) said it dismayed at the decision. The Victorian government is also making Easter Sunday a public holiday increasing the state’s days off to 13 a year.

“These two new public holidays come at a high cost to retail businesses, as it means increased wages as a result of high penalty rates if they are to open,” ARA executive director Russell Zimmerman said.

“Many Victorian retailers have indicated to the ARA that they will have no choice but to close their doors on these two days,” he said.

“Wages can be 50% higher on Easter Sunday and 150% higher on Grand Final Eve. Retailers face the difficult choice between remaining open and paying incredibly high penalty rates, or closing and losing sales or production.”

It is the second state-specific sporting holiday that the state takes, after Melbourne Cup Day.

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