The AFL has had a big win before the season restart with the South Australian government announcing more than 2000 spectators will be allowed to attend Saturday night’s Showdown at Adelaide Oval.
Fans in other states appear likely to have to wait at least another week – and Victoria even longer – to be afforded the same opportunity.
In a move confirmed on Tuesday, the SA government gave clearance for Port Adelaide and Adelaide to do battle in front of up to 2000 fans in the stands, with an additional 240 spectators in private rooms.
Details around which club members or fans will be allowed into the venue are still being finalised.
The decision makes SA the first state to allow spectators at AFL matches since the coronavirus shutdown.
It comes as the Queensland government rejected a claim that it had already approved the Gabba and Metricon Stadium to be at 25 per cent capacity for games as soon as this weekend.
AFL chief executive Gillon McLachlan is hopeful of further announcements this week while Gold Coast chairman Tony Cochrane confirmed the club was pushing for a “test crowd” of up to 1000 people at Saturday’s clash with West Coast.
On Tuesday Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said the state’s chief health officer was yet to approve any proposals and that spectators would not be allowed at AFL games in the state this week.
“It won’t be this weekend, but we have plans in currently with our chief health officer,” Palaszczuk said.
“We want to see crowds supporting their local football matches but also future netball games (and) sport across the board.
“We have to be measured and responsible and that’s why the plans are currently with the chief health officer and once she ticks off those plans she’ll get back to those organisations and we’ll be able to make some public announcements.”
The NRL has been granted permission for small groups of no more than 50 in corporate boxes to attend games in Sydney this weekend, at a ratio of one person every four square metres to abide by social distancing restrictions.
GWS have raised the prospect of hosting corporate supporters at their round two match against North Melbourne at Giants Stadium on Sunday.
McLachlan is growing increasingly confident that AFL games in Victoria won’t be played behind closed doors for the entire season despite COVID-19 infection rates there remaining higher than in other states.
Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews on Tuesday said there would be no crowds at AFL matches in his state “for the foreseeable future” as it attempts to control the coronavirus spread.
“As soon as we can have crowds back at the footy, as soon as we can have crowds back for a multitude of purposes, we will,” the premier said.
“But we’ve got to be cautious about this.
“People will be focused on the fact footy’s back, that’s absolutely fantastic news, we’re not going to be able to go to games for a period of time.
“Let’s be guided by the experts.”