AFL CEO Gillon McLachlan has sought to allay fears about potential quarantine hubs for teams. Image by Scott Barbour/AAP PHOTOS

Australian rules football

Virus hubs not remote islands: AFL boss

2020-04-17 14:55:41

The idea of a quarantine hub might evoke images of AFL players being banished to remote islands for some people, but that’s not how the league views the concept.

AFL chief Gillon McLachlan moved to allay fears about the controversial proposal on Friday.

The hub plan, which would have teams separated into three groups and isolated in different states to limit their exposure to COVID-19, is one of the scenarios the league is considering to restart the suspended season.

Key industry figures like the AFLPA’s Paul Marsh and Patrick Dangerfield have expressed concerns about the concept, with GWS chairman Tony Shepherd even likening hubs to cruise ships.

“I don’t know where we’ll land on (hubs), there are a range of options,” McLachlan told 3AW.

“But I do feel that hubs mean different things to different people and it can be applied differently.

“People have thoughts of remote islands and different stuff but in its simplest form it’s enhanced quarantine measures for if and when we get back on the park.

“I’m confident it’s more like ‘when’ and then there will be increased quarantine measures as is appropriate and I think people would expect.”

The AFL is working on a return-to-play plan to put to clubs by the end of April, with growing confidence in the industry that games might resume in July.

In further developments on Friday, McLachlan didn’t dismiss the prospect of players returning to clubs to train in groups before a date has been set for the resumption of the season.

Victoria’s chief medical officer Brett Sutton appeared to give the move his blessing when he told 3AW: “I think we need to consider how (players) might maintain their professional skills, but competition is another question.”

“What we’ve been clear on is that wherever we go we’ll be in lock step with the advice of governments,” McLachlan replied when asked about a return to training.

“Particularly in Victoria, we’re clearly taking direct advice from the chief medical officer.

“I think we’ve been superbly led in this state and we’ll take their advice.”