Carlton's Ed Curnow is among the hundreds of AFL players with a young family. Image by David Crosling/AAP PHOTOS

Australian rules football

McGuire slams 20-week AFL hub proposal

2020-04-29 20:47:42

Collingwood president Eddie McGuire has labelled a scenario that would see AFL clubs stay in quarantine hubs for up to 20 weeks as “complete rubbish”.

AFL Players’ Association boss Paul Marsh delivered the AFL’s season reboot plan to the playing group on Tuesday.

Players remain concerned about the thought of being situated in hubs and away from family for extended periods.

McGuire, who also sits on the AFL’s coronavirus taskforce, believes unnecessary panic has been allowed to set-in among the players.

“Worst case (scenario) and complete rubbish, I would have thought,” McGuire told Nine News about players being in hubs for 20 weeks.

“There is more chance of me being in the Carlton cheer squad from that happening.

“I actually feel really angry that so many of the players have been geed up; their partners, already under stress, have been further stressed.

“That is not only a worst case scenario, that is a doomsday scenario.”

With state borders a chance to re-open in coming weeks, McGuire believes that would cancel out the need for hubs.

Hub set-ups would be split into two blocks, beginning with an eight-week period consisting of a compact training schedule followed by five weeks of matches.

Marsh stressed that was only a starting point in negotiations.

“The players want to do everything that they reasonably can to play but the world has shifted significantly here,” he told SEN Breakfast on Wednesday.

“We’re all of the understanding right now that the hubs are the only way we’re realistically going to get the season started, given the border closures in South Australia, Western Australia and Queensland.”

Marsh said players’ individual circumstances relating to families and loved ones were a priority for the AFLPA.

Many are hopeful they will be allowed to take their families into the hubs, and AFL Media has reported senior players have threatened to stand themselves down over the issue.

Adelaide’s Rory Sloane, Steele Sidebottom of Collingwood and North Melbourne’s Todd Goldstein are among the leading players who have publicly expressed concerns about families being excluded.

However, the cost of allowing family members to join the hubs is a stumbling block for the AFL, which is already facing its biggest financial crisis because of the coronavirus pandemic.

“The AFL’s position is that they have an issue with bringing families in, but from our perspective it’s a significant issue for the players with families,” Marsh said.

He confirmed the AFL had proposed lists of 32 players per club to be accommodated within the hubs and said there would be provisions for players on the larger official club lists to move in and out.

Meanwhile, Collingwood coach Nathan Buckley queried whether having players and staff in hubs for an extended period was the right thing to do and said he would understand if any opted out.

“There would be players in our organisation – and staff – that would not make the decision to come and I would not look dimly on that at all,” Buckley told SEN.

“You’re not going to get 100 per cent buy-in with this.”