Venues in NSW will host the majority of the remaining matches in the A-League season. Image by Dean Lewins/AAP PHOTOS

soccer

Victorian COVID crisis threatens A-League

2020-07-01 20:09:29

Within hours of releasing their revised schedule for the 2019-20 A-League season, FFA is facing a fresh hurdle to their plans due to Victoria’s COVID-19 crisis.

The governing body released the schedule on Wednesday for the remaining 27 regular season matches and finals, with most games to be played in NSW.

Hours after the announcement however the NSW Government announced it planned to ban residents of Melbourne’s coronavirus hotspots from entering the state.

Those in affected postcodes found in NSW could face six months’ jail or an $11,000 fine, Health Minister Brad Hazzard announced under a public health order.

The development could severely affect the A-League’s resumption with some players and staff from the competition’s three Victorian clubs understood to live in affected areas.

The uncertainty over just where the Victorian clubs can play was evident in Wednesday’s released schedule.

Six matches involving Victorian teams, including the proposed first match since March’s coronavirus suspension on July 16 between Melbourne Victory and Western United did not have a confirmed venue.

Only one game, the July 19 match between Brisbane and Adelaide at CBUS Super Stadium on the Gold Coast is confirmed to be played outside NSW.

Announcing the fixture, FFA head of leagues Greg O’Rourke admitted the coronavirus situation made the plan subject to change.

“As we are a truly national game, the current border controls means that some of the match day venues may need to change,” O’Rourke said.

“However, we have secured venues in both a NSW hub model and a hybrid hub model, which has most games in NSW but allows for a few games in other states.”

Matches in NSW will be played at Netstrata Jubilee Stadium, Bankwest Stadium, ANZ Stadium, Newcastle’s McDonald Jones Stadium and Gosford’s Central Coast Stadium.

Only one other match, Adelaide’s game against ladder leaders Sydney FC is yet to have a confirmed venue.

The decision to not hold either of Adelaide’s two remaining home matches in South Australia left interim head coach Carl Veart confused and disappointed.

“When we were originally given the draw they said we would have some home games so I’m not to sure why now they’ve gone away from that,” Veart said.

“They haven’t given an indication why yet.

“I’m sure the club is still pushing to at least get the Sydney game at home, that’d be fantastic for us and for our supporters and for the state.”

The prospect of several weeks in a NSW hub wasn’t an enticing one for Victory defender Tim Hoogland.

“I really don’t want to go to a hub because my family is here, I don’t want to leave my family all alone for a couple of weeks,” Hoogland said.

However, with the 27 games to be played across just 28 days and finals to start on August 15, it is looking increasingly likely the Victorian clubs will have head to NSW.

FFA has already confirmed Wellington Phoenix and Perth Glory will be based in NSW throughout the remainder of the campaign.

Phoenix general manager David Dome acknowledged they faced a big challenge to keep their impressive season on track.

“As one of the few teams with six matches remaining, and to be asked to play six games in 24 days, it’s a tough ask for our players,” Dome said.

The fixture has also slated August 23 as the date for this season’s grand final.