The AFL season has been suspended after just one round, and AFLW cancelled, due to the outbreak of coronavirus.
With state governments introducing new measures, including border closures and shutting down non-essential activity, in an attempt to slow the spread of the virus, AFL CEO Gillon McLachlan announced this afternoon the men’s competition will be postponed until the start of June at the earliest, while the women’s 2020 season has been cancelled without a premiership being awarded.
Speaking to the media about the decision, McLachlan flagged the coming period as the biggest financial challenge the sport has ever faced, but maintained the plan is to play the remaining 144 games of the season.
“The AFL industry is facing its biggest financial crisis in our history, but our key priority is to do everything possible to keep players, staff and supporters healthy and well through this pandemic,” McLachlan said.
“To say that this is the most serious threat to our game in 100 years is an understatement.
“It is unprecedented in its impact. It is unprecedented in the impact it is having on our game and our wider community.
“And as a community and as a code, we all need to take the unprecedented and required actions to get through this together.”
While June 1 is currently the earliest the season could resume, McLachlan said there is a chance that date could be pushed further back.
“We will review the situation by the end of April to determine whether a further suspension period would be required,” he said.
McLachlan said the AFL had considered awarding an AFLW premiership after cancelling the season, but due to the split conference system used for the competition, and with four sides still left in the running, the decision was made to not crown a champion team for 2020.
The move puts even more pressure on the NRL and A-League to call a halt to their seasons as the last two major sporting competitions in the country which are still running. Reports on Sunday afternoon, however, suggest the NRL will push ahead with Round 3 next weekend.