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Doubts over A-League restart averted as NSW Government grants travel exemptions to Victorian clubs

Doubts over A-League restart averted as NSW Government grants travel exemptions to Victorian clubs
July 9, 2020

Confusion over the status of Melbourne-based clubs in the soon to restart A-League has been eased late this evening with the NSW Government having given the teams permission to travel and be based in Sydney.

With Melbourne moving into lockdown during the week, attempts by the Melbourne-based clubs to leave Victoria before the Level 3 Coronavirus restrictions were reintroduced had been unsuccessful.

This evening, Football Federation Australia (FFA) announced that the NSW Wales Government had granted exemptions to Melbourne Victory, Melbourne City and Western United, allowing them to travel to Sydney to complete the 2019/20 A-League season.

All three teams will have to undertake 14 days of quarantine at an approved facility before they are able to play their matches, meaning the proposed restart fixture between Victory and Western United on 16th July will have to be rescheduled.

The league, suspended since March, will now resume on 17th July with league leaders Sydney FC taking on Wellington Phoenix at Netstrata Jubilee Oval.

In a statement, FFA Chief Executive, James Johnson advised “now that we have certainty that all our clubs will be ready for the restart, we will look to modify our match schedule accordingly to give all teams the opportunity to perform at their best.”

Before the exemptions were confirmed, FFA Head of Leagues Greg O'Rourke said the teams would not be able to travel to NSW until they had all returned negative COVID-19 swabs.

O'Rourke also took responsibility for the aborted attempts to relocate the Melbourne teams, apologising for the inconvenience caused to players and staff.

He advised “they're the ones that have been mucked around, significantly mucked around.

"I get the frustration and if anyone wants to have a crack at myself. I accept that because the buck stops with me."

The 2019/20 grand final is scheduled to be played on 23rd August, but O'Rourke said there was scope to extend the season to 30th August if needed to ensure all the fixtures could be played.

Images: A-League 2019/20 season entrant Western United will now be based in NSW, along with Melbourne Victory and Melbourne City (top) and FFA Head of Leagues Greg O'Rourke (below).

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