The AFL wants to avoid playing the Derby and Showdown in Gold Coast hubs, in the hope the marquee fixtures can be held in their home states later in the season.
West Coast, Fremantle, Adelaide and Port Adelaide will all restart their seasons on the Gold Coast and are set to play the other quarantined teams, plus Brisbane and the Suns, in their opening block of games.
“If we can, we’ll avoid the Derby and the Showdown in that first four-week period, ideally and hold it back to the back end of the season,” AFL fixtures boss Travis Auld told ABC Grandstand.
“Whether we can achieve that, I’m not sure at the moment.”
As Port Adelaide played the Suns in round one, the AFL would have to schedule a Showdown in the first four weeks, unless another team travelled to play Port Adelaide.
Auld said the league would try to avoid the relocated teams playing “home” games against the Suns or Lions.
“I do think though that some of those four teams from outside of Queensland will play a home game at either the Gabba or Metricon but most likely against one of the other non-Queensland teams,” Auld said.
Brisbane chief executive Greg Swann said the Lions were fortunate the hub situation meant they would avoid a regular-season trip to Western Australia, but expected up to four consecutive away games later in the year.
“If we get the two Perth teams, we don’t have to travel to WA at all,” Swann told ABC Grandstand.
“That’s an advantage to us, but later on in the year we might play three or four in a row down in Melbourne or Sydney or wherever. Whatever comes our way, we’ll deal with it.”
Teams will resume non-contact training in groups of eight on Monday, then full contact training from May 25.
Adelaide and Port Adelaide plan to arrive in their quarantine hubs by May 24.
There are a range of mechanisms in place in a bid to avoid an outbreak but there is room to move in the fixture if the season has to be put on hold again.
Players and officials have already undergone the first of what will soon be twice-weekly coronavirus tests, and they will also face daily health checks.
“We don’t necessarily have to have the season finishing in October,” Auld said.
“We’ve said from day one that we have 153 games we need to get away and a standard finals series and so if we had to take a break during the year, certainly it’d go beyond what now looks like a mid-to-late October finish and so we’ve just got to play it out as it comes.”
The AFL is still negotiating with the AFLPA regarding restrictions but players or officials caught breaching regulations will be charged under the AFL’s new “conduct unbecoming” rules and face stiff penalties.
GWS captain Stephen Coniglio believes players will be on their best behaviour to keep the season up and running.
“You don’t want to be the player that slips up, let alone the player that costs everyone else,” Coniglio told ABC’s Offsiders.
“More than ever this AFL season will be won by the team that has the best discipline, and is the most resilient.”