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Coronavirus fears sees AFL announce plan to cut season to 17 rounds
In the wake of the Coronavirus crisis, the AFL season will be shortened by five games, with the League considering whether round one of the 2020 competition will start on Thursday.
In an unprecedented move announced on Monday afternoon, AFL Chief Executive Gillon McLachlan said five matches of the season would be scrapped and that the competition would close down a minimum 14-day shutdown at the "first instance" of a player testing positive to Coronavirus (COVID-19).
The AFL Players Association held two separate briefings with AFL and AFLW players on Monday night to gauge the players' stance of playing in their respective competitions this weekend.
McLachlan confirmed he had held conversations with AFLPA Chief Executive Paul Marsh over the prospect of players taking pay cuts due to playing less matches.
Confirming that he too would take a pay cut, McLachlan advised “we've got 40 weeks to get a 17-week season away. If it's done by the end of September, fabulous, but if we need more time, we'll do that. That's our commitment to our industry.
"This unprecedented community challenge requires unprecedented community response."
Details of the competition changes are as follows:
• The first four rounds of the season will remain as fixtured (regardless of when they are played), but the rest of the 13 rounds will be ‘recalibrated’.
• The potential of shortening game time provided greater flexibility to play multiple games in an ‘accelerated’ period. It could include playing multiple matches in the space of a week.
• Games with no spectators would allow flexibility for broadcasters to play matches on non-traditional football days including Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday.
• The four-week finals series structure would continue as planned - with no date locked in.
• The fixture for the rest of the NAB AFL Women's competition remained unconfirmed.
• State league competitions and talent programs will be put on hold until 31st May in an attempt to limit the outbreak due to their ‘part-time’ nature.
• A decision on the ability for AFL clubs to add players from state league competitions to a supplementary list would be finalised next week.
• AFL Commission Chairman Richard Goyder will chair a cabinet of club presidents to assist and lead the industry. It will be finalised on Tuesday.
• The League has every intention to play the Grand Final at the MCG. The first scheduled cricket match of the summer falls on 25th October with a Twenty20 World Cup match between New Zealand and West Indies.
• The AFL executive is working closely with AFL clubs on their finances to ensure clubs were able to work their way through this challenge.
Images: AFL at Melbourne's Marvel Stadium (top) and AFL Chief Executive Gillon McLachlan (below).
15th March 2020 - Coronavirus travel restrictions to impact New Zealand tourism and sport
13th March 2020 - Australian Grand Prix called off due to Coronavirus concerns
4th March 2020 - Coronavirus fears sees AFL cancel Shanghai fixture
26th February 2020 - Marvel Stadium delivers hospitality upgrades ahead of 2020 AFL season
14th February 2020 - AFL and Ticketmaster move to scrap ticket booking fees at Melbourne’s Marvel Stadium
12th February 2020 - Coronavirus continues to impact China’s sports events
10th February 2020 - Tokyo Olympic organisers emphasise Games will go ahead despite coronavirus
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
4th November 2019 - AFL announces new management arrangements for Marvel Stadium
2nd November 2019 - Marvel Stadium reveals 2020 season AFL calendar
29th October 2019 - AFL reaches agreement with AFLW players for 2020 season
18th October 2019 - Richmond shows impressive off-field performance to cap AFL Grand Final win
17th October 2019 - Gold Coast SUNS to take AFL Premiership games to the Northern Territory
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