AFL CEO Gillon McLachlan has announced that all Victorian AFL teams will be based in Queensland hubs for up to ten weeks due to the ongoing COVID breakout in Victoria.
The full statement from McLachlan reads as follows;
“Over the last few months we have consistently spoken about our competition and our club’s ability to adapt.
We have also spoken about ensuring we prioritise the health and welfare of our players, staff and the wider community.
The evolving situation around different states and communities has meant we have had to make decisions quickly and the relevant adjustments to ensure the season continues.
For this I can’t thank our clubs, players, coaches, umpires, staff, broadcast and corporate partners enough.
We also appreciate the enormous sacrifice the families of travelling players and officials are making in allowing their loved ones to live interstate to ensure we get the competition away for our supporters.
Today we make another decision to ensure the health and welfare of everyone and to provide greater certainty to all involved in our game for the coming weeks.
Understanding the ongoing situation with Covid-19 in Victoria, Victorian teams will be based out of Queensland for up to 10 weeks as we aim to get the majority of the season complete in that timeframe.
Victorian teams based in Queensland that are fixtured to travel interstate to play, will travel to their game and then return back Queensland
Melbourne, which is currently based in NSW, will also move to Queensland next week.
We will also set up a transition hub in Queensland for players from those Victorian clubs who didn’t take full playing lists, and the AFL will also accommodate families who did not initially go up to the hubs with clubs.
If families and loved ones want to join their partners in Queensland, we will facilitate this.
This is a challenging period for a lot of families and homes around the country with various restrictions. AFL players and their families not immune to these challenges.
Both top up players and families will undergo a strict 14-day quarantine in a transition hub before reuniting with team-mates and partners.
We need to deal with the uncertainty, and this is a clear plan that makes Queensland the base for our competition and provides greater certainty for everyone.
We are not able to announce the future fixtures yet, however, we are working with the AFLPA and clubs on what compression is possible.
At the start of this pandemic, when we first shortened the season and the game-time, it was done to provide us with the flexibility and agility to make decisions like the ones today.
We must continue to embrace the challenge ahead.
We are still working through the finer detail but I want to thank the AFLPA and Paul Marsh for embracing this challenge and working with us and the clubs as we navigate the changing landscape. Their support and collaboration has been vital.
I would like to thank all the Premiers and Chief Medical Officers; whose guidance and protocols are what we anchor all our decision making on.
I would particularly like to acknowledge Premier Palaszczuk. The state of Queensland has been very accommodating in providing world class facilities for our clubs and we are in the process of booking accommodation for hundreds of players and officials.
I stress none of these measures can happen without strict quarantine protocols and the COVID management plan across all the states that has allowed the 2020 AFL season to proceed.
I do want to acknowledge the people of Victoria.
This is a tough time for individuals, families and businesses and our thoughts are with everyone who is in dealing with the impact of Covid-19. We know the community worked hard to address the first wave and are confident that we will continue to take the measures needed to deal with the virus.
I also want to thank Bachar Houli for his leadership in the middle of his own family crisis to be thinking of the wider community and sending a strong message to be tested if you feel any symptoms.
This season that is literally like no other.
Amongst all the changes, challenges, good days and bad ones, we continue to find a way through.
We will continue to keep our game alive, for the fans, for our clubs and for the thousands and thousands of jobs the competition provides.
We persevere because that’s what footy does – it always finds a way.”