AFL chief Gillon McLachlan says footy will look different when it returns. Picture: Getty Images
AFL chief Gillon McLachlan says footy will look different when it returns. Picture: Getty Images

Doubts on AFL hubs as viable option

Mystery still surrounds the level of quarantine the AFL will force clubs to enter when it restarts the season.

League boss Gillon McLachlan has revealed he has a "tentative" return date in mind and guaranteed football would look totally different.

Many industry sources believe footy is most likely to return in late June or early July.

Victoria's COVID-19 infection rate has not ruled the MCG or Marvel Stadium out of hosting matches, with the AFL still exploring options in all states and territories.

"The hub is a huge breadth of optionality," McLachlan said.

"There's the most extreme - which is you are on an island … completely locked in and everything happens in there and you can't come or go - and then at least extreme it's a level of quarantine measures and different protocols that actually mean that you're not living your normal life.

 

Footy is likely to be played in front of empty stadiums this year. Picture: AAP
Footy is likely to be played in front of empty stadiums this year. Picture: AAP

 

"There's going to be some level of quarantine measures that will mean the games when we start won't be as we've known.

"There are border restrictions at the moment … which means we will have to make change to get the games away."

Clubs and the AFL Players' Association are still unsure what the league is cooking up and a meeting between football managers was cancelled last week.

The AFL will need state government approval before it can schedule games that require clubs crossing borders to play.

The overall success of social distancing measures is also likely to see players in their home states remain at home, instead of filing into shared accommodation inside a hub.

But travelling teams would be placed under strict quarantine measures.

The narrative coming out of league headquarters shifted last week with McLachlan clearly confident the remaining 144 matches plus finals would be staged.

McLachlan will announce the restart plan on Monday week (April 27).

Clubs will be given a three-week pre-season to prepare.

The AFL will study how the NRL tries to keep its players safe. The rival code has set itself a resumption date of May 28.

McLachlan has a 15-page document filled with health and safety protocols that continues to be updated.

The vacant MCG is ready for games.

"Victoria has extraordinary proximate facilities," McLachlan told Fox Footy.

"You clearly need venues, there's good options with centralised accommodation, you need training facilities, you need medical facilities."

Melbourne's Jake Melksham said he wants football back but cautioned it would be difficult to relocate for long.

"We've got a four-year-old girl and a one-year old boy who are full on," he said.

"Even on those two-day interstate trips, I find I'm on the phone to my wife a lot, just trying to put out spot fires. I don't think it would be viable for months at a time.

"I know it sounds selfish to be talking about lifestyle, but we've got other people we have to think about in our lives. I know for my family it would be quite tough.

Originally published as Doubts on AFL hubs as viable option


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