The COVID-19 pandemic has spurred the AFL to postpone its season, and to consider splitting its 18 clubs into quarantined ‘hubs’.
This could give the AFL the opportunity to go back to the nineties if one AFL club president’s suggestion is taken up.
James Strebinos reports.
Photo: Hunter Nield (CC BY-NC 2.0)
James Strebinos: Collingwood president Eddie McGuire has told Triple M that the AFL should consider playing matches at suburban grounds should the season continue. With remaining fixtures most likely to be played behind closed doors, McGuire says it would be the perfect time to go back to the future.
Eddie McGuire: There’s a real opportunity to do that and that could be something that comes up again with the dramas that have been going on about whether Marvel Stadium would be available because of cricket. But there’s plenty of opportunity (with that)…I think that these venues are going to play a far bigger role with the women’s football and whatever the second tier VFL competition looks like eventually once we get things going.
James Strebinos: With a chance the remainder of the season might be played as late as December, the AFL could face logistical issues in October, with major venues unavailable due to the ICC Cricket World Cup. The AFL will also need to consider another grand final venue should the MCG be unavailable for the Boxing Day test or the cricket World Cup. However, AFL boss Gillon McLachlan told 3AW that the AFL will not fight with cricket on what grounds will be available.
Gillon McLachlan: Wherever we land, it’ll be done in the right spirit because this is so much bigger than us, at the moment, and I’ve never seen such an appetite to work together and work through the problems…When people say it’s cricket first, or whatever, I don’t have that view – I think it’s community first and we will work through this because all Australians demand that we do that. I’m just not going to get into those conflicts, because they’re a complete nonsense. We are all better than that and we will work through this and do everything we can for our community at the right time to put our game back on, play our season, give our people a little joy and get footy back in our communities and at the elite level.
James Strebinos: While the AFL still plans on fitting in a 17-round season and finals this year, McLachlan admits that the unpredictability of coronavirus will continue to cause a lot of uncertainty around what happens to the future of the season.
Gillon McLachlan: There’s always uncertainty, we had a clear plan of 17 games we hope is as soon as possible but there is an asterisk which I think everyone accepts so that’s just being mature about it. I don’t know when (the peak of COVID-19 is) we will see modelling around where the peak is, and it might vary by state and there may be a federal view opposed to a state view. We will just take the best advice and continue to talk to the right people and plan and while the plans may have to change, we hope, and we are optimistic that we are on sooner than later but it’s really uncertain.
James Strebinos: Gillon McLachlan and the AFL will meet later this month to discuss the future of the season.