The leaders of the AFL made the wise and timely decision to shut down the competition.
This protected those engaged in the AFL industry, and assisted in slowing the spread of COVID-19.
The same leaders now have an obligation to get the AFL up and running again as quickly as possible. They need to do that to protect the incomes of those employed in the AFL industry, and to provide the service promised to paid-up AFL members.
So, how do we get AFL up and running again in a safe and timely way?
The obvious answer is Tasmania. Tasmania’s new case numbers for COVID-19 are rapidly decreasing. Tassie intervened early and well to limit the spread of the virus, and although it is early, the results look promising.
With all new arrivals going into quarantine for the last week, it is conceivable that there will be negligible transmission of the virus in Tasmania within another two to three weeks.
So how does that help?
The AFL should immediately transfer all of its teams to Tasmania. Each team could be housed in a separate hotel in Tasmania, which would be dedicated to servicing that team.
Each team would have to go into quarantine for the first two weeks after arrival. Separation of each team into small groups during the isolation would mean that if a player or official had arrived in Tasmania with COVID-19, only the small group not the entire team would then require longer isolation.
So the human resource needed to get the AFL up and running again would be housed in Tasmania and out of isolation in two weeks.
If the number of cases of COVID-19 in Tasmania was negligible in two to three weeks, it is conceivable that some restrictions on holding events might then be lifted. Indeed, the Australian racing industry demonstrated over the weekend that it is possible to safely run events involving large numbers of people.
There are many quality football grounds in Tasmania able to host an AFL match. With these measures it is quite possible that we will be watching AFL again in about a month.
Not only would this secure the income of players and officials, ensure the viability of clubs and the league, and provide a much needed stimulus to the Tasmanian tourism industry (on which Tasmania’s economy relies), but it would also provide an incredibly useful and powerful outlet for those supporters around Australia who may well remain in relative isolation for another three to six months.
Victoria and New South Wales will take much longer to emerge from this crisis than Tasmania, and having nine games of AFL each weekend to watch would be a much needed boost.