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AFL season to commence on time despite Coronavirus pandemic

AFL season to commence on time despite Coronavirus pandemic
March 18, 2020

The 2020 AFL season will start on schedule on Thursday night with reigning Premiers Richmond to host Carlton at the MCG, beginning what League Chief Executive, Gillon McLachlan has said will be a season “that will not look like any other”.

The confirmation, less than 24 hours before the opening fixture, that, amid the Coronavirus pandemic, the season will start followed an afternoon meeting of the AFL Commission.

Currently committing to play just the first round of the competition, which kicks off with the traditional Richmond-Carlton season opener, McLachlan said the decision was made to "preserve the industry".

With the match to be played inside an empty venue following the AFL's decision to ban spectators on the advice of the Federal Government, McLachlan advised “today's inflection point has been reached with wide consultation including conversations with the Australian Chief Medical Officer.”

Expanding on Monday’s decision to shorten the season to 17 games, McLachlan went on to explain “our 17-round season becomes a 153-game journey. We have to be agile and flexible. The games will be shortened. Quarters will be 16 minutes plus time on.

"We know at any time a player may test positive and halt our journey temporarily.

"We start tomorrow night, confident after discussions with the chief medical officer that our players are well placed to bear the proportionate risk of playing a contact sport."

McLachlan said going ahead with the games sat "within newly announced guidelines and protocols" made by the Federal Government on Wednesday.

He added "all parts of society need to keep moving forward. We simply cannot stand still.

"We don't know how many games we get into the 153-game journey before we have to pause, but what I do know today is I feel comfortable with the government and medical advice."

McLachlan said the Commission considered the decision "widely" and contemplated the uncertain and ever-changing times the country was going through.

Advising that all 18 clubs wanted to play, he suggested "I think it's going to be a long year.”

McLachlan said continuing the season would be reviewed every day and that clubrooms had been set up to fit within the latest health protocols.

Players, as represented by the AFL Players Association, are understood to be unhappy at the shortened season as they potentially face significant pay cuts.

The AFLPA advised the AFL on Tuesday its players wanted to start the season, as did club chief executives in a teleconference on Wednesday morning.

Announcing limitations on gatherings this morning, Prime Minister Scott Morrison directly placed the onus of making a decision to play matches onto the AFL Commission.

Despite banning mass gatherings of 100 or more people, Prime Minister Morrison said it was up to the AFL to determine if it proceeded with matches.

AFLW games will also continue this weekend but will forgo the final two weeks of the home and away season and move straight into finals with a fixture to be announced on Thursday.

Yesterday the AFL advised that all of its state association managed or operated leagues along with all NAB AFL Auskick Centres programs currently operating or set to begin, will be postponed until 31st May.

Related Articles

18th March 2020 - Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison halts international travel and bans indoor gatherings of over 100

18th March 2020 - Brisbane Lions warn of $5 million loss if forced to play home matches with no crowds

17th March 2020 - FFA suspends grassroots football

17th March 2020 - Coronavirus fears sees AFL announce plan to cut season to 17 rounds

17th March 2020 - VMA cancels 2020 Venue Industry Congress

16th March 2020 - Chief Medical Officer says going to cinemas and gyms is ‘low risk’ during Coronavirus outbreak

13th March 2020 - Non-essential gatherings of more than 500 people effectively banned across Australia

13th March 2020 - Australian Grand Prix called off due to Coronavirus concerns

13th March 2020 - AFL and NRL seasons to go ahead behind closed doors due to Coronavirus fears

4th March 2020 - Coronavirus fears sees AFL cancel Shanghai fixture

31st January 2020 - Coronavirus declared global health emergency by World Health Organization

26th February 2020 - Marvel Stadium delivers hospitality upgrades ahead of 2020 AFL season

8th February 2020 - AFL announces key partnerships ahead of the 2020 NAB AFL Women’s Competition

7th February 2020 - AFL Taskforce report shows Tasmanian team viable and sustainable

7th February 2020 - AFL’s Carlton on track to be debt free by 2022

7th February 2020 - The AFL and Coles announce major five-year partnership

11th December 2019 - AFL’s Crows reveal plans to replace Adelaide Aquatic Centre with new training base

4th November 2019 - AFL announces new management arrangements for Marvel Stadium

30th September 2019 - Triumphant Premiers Richmond reveal expanding role beyond that of a traditional AFL club

8th May 2013 - Auskick’s popularity grows outside Victoria

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