AFL chief Gillon McLachlan is adamant the league will be able to deliver definitive details around the competition’s resumption date by the end of April.
Despite an ever-changing landscape amid the coronavirus pandemic, McLachlan on Thursday told reporters the AFL would soon set dates for players to return to training and the next round of matches to be played.
“The decision we make will have the support of the relevant government authorities and their medical officers,” McLachlan said.
“We’re better placed every day to make that decision, I think, as things become clearer and the more we’re able to consult with key government and medical partners who have a greater level of data and insight into what’s going on.”
The AFL campaign is suspended until at least May 31 but McLachlan is confident the shortened 153-match home-and-away season, plus finals, will be completed this year.
He said the AFL wanted to settle on a return date that would allow it to push through the rest of the season uninterrupted from that point.
“When the exact start date is, I don’t have an answer, other than we’re committed to being out (and) informing our supporters and the public and others by the end of April,” McLachlan said.
The AFL has conceded matches will resume without fans in the stands but has not yet settled on the proposed plan of returning to play in quarantine hubs.
McLachlan is wary of the challenges that players will face if they are asked to spend time away from their families in the hubs.
Some players, including AFL Players Association president Patrick Dangerfield, have expressed concerns about the hubs idea.
McLachlan said the AFL will not make a formal proposal to players until a concrete plan has been formulated.
“It’s incumbent upon us to look at every option and that ranges from playing the way we have historically to various levels of quarantine,” McLachlan said.
“We are working with the right people to get a considered view about the right way to take us forward.
“I understand the challenges that will be on so many people as we try to get this season away and we’ll have to continue to work with all the stakeholders to get their buy-in.
“We understand the reservations of some in the absence of information.”
AFL clubs’ playing lists are likely to be trimmed for next season as part of football department cost-cutting measures across the competition, but McLachlan confirmed they will remain as they are for 2020.
McLachlan also said the AFL would open its books to the AFLPA when it comes to negotiating a reworked pay deal for future seasons.
“There will have to be a level of transparency about what industry revenue looks like to conclude that deal,” he said.