AFL CEO Gillon McLachlan has told clubs a call on when the season could restart will be made in May. Image by Scott Barbour/AAP PHOTOS

Australian rules football

AFL to make 2020 season call in May

2020-04-24 21:22:15

The AFL will not settle on its plan for the resumption of the 2020 season until the middle of next month.

Chief executive Gillon McLachlan told clubs on Friday the AFL would wait for updated advice from relevant government and medical authorities before making a decision on the season reboot amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The league had initially targeted the last week of April for an announcement.

But with the national cabinet now set to review coronavirus restrictions on May 10, the AFL will be in a better position to put plans in place after that date.

It means AFL matches are unlikely to resume until June at the earliest.

“The timetable we will now work to is the week beginning May 11 when we will be able to provide full details for clubs and supporters on a proposed date for a resumption of training and return to play,” McLachlan wrote in a memo to clubs.

The federal government on Friday declared it would set up national guidelines to help states and territories decide how and when elite and lower-level sports can return from their coronavirus hiatus.

All states and territories are being considered by the AFL to set up a hub to ensure the competition, which was put on hold last month after one round of matches, starts up again this year.

The AFL is weighing up whether to house all 18 clubs in one hub, or to spread teams across Australia in multiple locations.

“The AFL’s current thinking is to establish quarantine zones, limit travel and reduce contact with the public by establishing an Olympic Village-style model,” McLachlan wrote.

“A village will essentially consist of a hotel that is solely dedicated to the AFL industry to enable the control of external people entering, ideally based on extensive grounds such as a golf resort or winery that allows personnel to move around freely in a quarantined zone without public interaction.”

Most states have already declared their interest in hosting a football hub.

Western Australia has done so through premier Mark McGowan, however, Fremantle coach Justin Longmuir has given his backing to a Victorian plan to host all 18 clubs.

Travel restrictions between states are not currently in place for Victoria and New South Wales, potentially giving those states an advantage.

Gold Coast Suns chief executive Mark Evans believes the warmer Queensland climate would make for an ideal hub location during winter, and has held discussions with local rival Brisbane about the prospect.

Sydney and GWS are united in wanting a NSW hub and have been working together to try and make it happen, while Adelaide chairman Rob Chapman has been pushing South Australia’s case.

Swans chairman Andrew Pridham and Giants chief executive Dave Matthews have told News Corp they would be uncomfortable with all 18 clubs being based in Melbourne.

Players, including AFL Players’ Association president Patrick Dangerfield, have recently warmed to the concept of hubs after initially opposing the idea, recognising it may be the only way to resume playing.