AFL CEO Gillon McLachlan says Victoria is equipped to host a quarantine hub when the season resumes. Image by Scott Barbour/AAP PHOTOS

Australian rules football

Victoria a quarantine hub option: AFL boss

2020-04-18 15:16:43

AFL chief executive Gillon McLachlan says Victoria remains a viable option to host a quarantine hub as the league edges closer to restarting the 2020 season.

McLachlan revealed on Saturday that he has a tentative return date in his mind and that players should be optimistic about the situation, with the league to announce a return-to-play plan by the end of the month.

The hub concept, which would see teams split into three groups and isolated in different states to limit their exposure to COVID-19, is increasingly likely to come into play.

Western Australia, South Australia and Queensland had been viewed as key states to that strategy, but a drop off in new cases in Victoria has improved chances the state could host a hub.

“Victoria has extraordinary proximate facilities, so there are obviously opportunities, like there are in every state to various levels,” McLachlan told Fox Footy.

“You clearly need venues, options with centralised accommodation, you need training facilities, you need medical facilities and they’re all being assessed.

“There are live examples of things being looked at in every state and territory.”

McLachlan didn’t dismiss a hub hypothetical that was put him that would see games played at the MCG, players and staff housed at the nearby Pullman and Mantra hotels and training sessions held at Collingwood’s headquarters and Richmond’s Punt Road Oval. 

Hospitals and scanning facilities are also located nearby.

The AFL chief accepts that there is a level of restlessness amongst isolated players and that “there is a point where all people need to look forward”.

However, he reiterated the season won’t get back underway without the blessing of relevant state and federal medical authorities.

The AFL has worked with those authorities and international sporting codes to come up with a strict set of protocols that would help safeguard players in a hub scenario.

McLachlan has been at pains to demystify the hub concept that GWS chairman Tony Shepherd has described as potentially having the same level of infection risk as a cruise ship.

“There’s the most extreme (idea) where you are on an island or a green field site, you can put a fence around it and you completely lock it,” he said.

“And then at its least extreme it’s a level of quarantine measures and protocols that mean you’re not actually living your normal life and the way you go about footy.

“What I’ve said is that I think there’s going to be some level of quarantine measures that will mean that when we start it won’t be (a season) as we’ve known it.”