Melbourne City was the last team to return to A-League action, kicking off their short end-of-season campaign against the newly crowned premiers Sydney FC.
The A-League’s saga to get its three Victorian clubs out of coronavirus-hit Melbourne is poised to reach its conclusion.
After two aborted attempts to leave the state earlier this week, the FFA confirmed on Thursday it had received exemptions from the NSW government for Melbourne City, Melbourne Victory and Western United to travel to Sydney.
It’s understood approximately 120 players and staff from the three clubs will be heading to NSW, where they’ll have to undergo a 14-day quarantine period before being able to take part in matches.
No departure plans have been announced, with head of leagues Greg O’Rourke announcing on Thursday each traveller will need to have tested negative to COVID-19 before making the trip.
Regular testing has been ongoing at all A-League clubs and O’Rourke said when Western United’s most recent swabs had been cleared, the teams will be free to travel.
“We won’t be able to move until the players from Western United swabs are returned and we can guarantee that everybody has a negative,” O’Rourke said.
With less than a week until the league was set to restart, the scheduled fixture on July 16 between Victory and Western United will have to be rearranged due to neither team being able to play a match during their quarantine periods.
That should mean the July 17 match between leaders Sydney FC and Wellington Phoenix at Jubilee Stadium will be the first fixture to be played since the league was suspended in March due to the coronavirus pandemic.
O’Rourke said with a competition window that can be extended until August 30, he was confident the remaining 27 regular season fixtures and finals can still be accommodated despite the quarantine period.
He also dismissed media reports that FFA planned to have up to four players sharing accommodation at Narrabeen’s Sports Academy in Sydney during their isolation period.
“We wanted to test with the government, through the exemption, whether or not we could take between 70 and 80 people there, which would mean that we would be able to spread them out,” O’Rourke said, adding the Narrabeen facility was no longer part of the isolation planning.
“We’ve provided them with a different option … but I can tell you that the level of accommodation would be much more commensurate with what the players will normally have stayed in had they just been in a normal season.”