The AFL season can’t restart until it demonstrates how it intends to play games amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Victoria’s chief health officer says.
Brett Sutton met with AFL boss Gillon McLachlan on Sunday but believes any resumption can’t just be focused on Victoria.
“My suggestion was it needs to be a national conversation because it does relate to how teams can move around the country,” Sutton told reporters on Monday.
“We don’t want a situation where everyone’s in quarantine crossing a state border for 14 days. The AFL can’t work in that regard.
“But it needs a detailed proposal that works through exactly how this is managed, how the physical distancing will be in place and surveillance for illness of any players is managed so that’s still to come through.
“We’re all keen to get everything moving again at the right time with the right assurances.”
The competition has been shut down until at least May 31 because of the coronavirus but a return date will soon be announced.
McLachlan is adamant he will be able to deliver definitive details around the competition’s resumption date by the end of April.
But the AFL is preparing for an entire season without spectators after Sutton admitted mass gatherings with thousands of people would likely be off-limits until 2021.
“I think that’s going to be challenging (to host crowds) this year,” McLachlan told 3AW on Monday.
“That doesn’t mean it won’t happen later in the year, but certainly not contemplating crowds at the start.
“And I think if you take a line through what Brett Sutton said, who in Victoria will be the guy making the decision, I think it’s a challenge to have (crowds) at all this year.”
The AFL will do everything possible to finish the shortened 17-round home-and-away season and declare a premier after a finals series.
McLachlan said he was hopeful the season could be completed before summer, but did not rule out speculation of a New Year’s Eve grand final.
“It is only because we have technically said we would push as late as we could in 2020 to get the season away,” McLachlan said.
“Hopefully we have enough time and will get a season with continuity and finish before (New Year’s Eve).”