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AFL announces protocols for return to training and play
The AFL has today announced strict protocols to ensure its 2020 season can resume, ordering every listed player and staff member to be tested for COVID-19 by Friday before allowing clubs to potentially return to full-contact training with complete squads next week.
With AFL officials continuing negotiations with state governments in the hope of gaining uniform approval to train, following the Victorian Government’s announcement of a relaxation of restrictions, the League has written to all 18 of its clubs detailing Coronavirus testing requirements.
In advance of a potential announcement later this week on a return to competition, the AFL also told clubs they must reduce sporting department spending by 40% as part of drastic cost-cutting measures deemed necessary for the competition's survival.
The reductions will see clubs’ football department staff numbers will be capped at 24 and must include a doctor, player development manager and psychologist.
Explaining this, AFL General Counsel, Andrew Dillon advised “we must take a prudent approach to football department expenditure which recognises that a significant level of industry revenue has already been lost and there is further material risk to our financial position both this season and in future years.”
As part of strict return-to-play rules, players have been banned from featuring in their affiliated second-tier competitions (VFL, WAFL, SANFL and NEAFL) although the AFL is considering allowing players who are not selected for regular matches to participate in games against other AFL clubs in a controlled environment.
Following this announcement, Adelaide, Port Adelaide, and West Coast have all withdrawn their respective sides from second-tier competitions, with Port Adelaide chief executive, Keith Thomas, saying he is disappointed but understands the importance of doing so.
Thomas stated “it is very disappointing to not have Port Adelaide participate in the SANFL competition this season, especially given it is our 150th anniversary.
“We are a foundation club of the SANFL and proud of this heritage.
“We look forward to continuing that legacy in the SANFL in 2021.”
Clubs have been warned against further breaches of Coronavirus protocols after the Adelaide Crow's training error last week, and all clubs are required to nominate an internal COVID-19 club compliance officer.
Victorian Sports Minister Martin Pakula yesterday approved interstate clubs using Melbourne as a temporary base, noting “we'd be comfortable with Western Australian teams being part of any appropriate quarantine arrangement (in Victoria) if that's the way they choose to go.
"I'm still hopeful that Western Australian teams can play in Western Australia and I'm sure that's what the Eagles and the Dockers would prefer.
"But it's a matter for (Western Australian Premier) Mark McGowan and the Western Australian Government, and ultimately for them and the AFL to come to a conclusion about."
8th May 2020 - Western Australia’s Olympic hopefuls return to training
10th April 2020 - AFL faces up to post lockdown changes
30th March 2020 - AFL looks to secure $600 million loan
29th March 2020 - AFL and players agree pay-cut deal through Coronavirus shutdown
22nd March 2020 - AFL suspends season until end of May in response to Coronavirus
18th March 2020 - AFL season to commence on time despite Coronavirus pandemic
17th March 2020 - Coronavirus fears sees AFL announce plan to cut season to 17 rounds
4th March 2020 - Coronavirus fears sees AFL cancel Shanghai fixture
26th February 2020 - Marvel Stadium delivers hospitality upgrades ahead of 2020 AFL season
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