A surge in COVID-19 outbreaks in Victoria, as well as high case numbers in New South Wales, have placed the AFL in a delicate position to keep the 2021 season going.
And the league has already taken its first step as several clubs have moved north.
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9.40 AM – ROOS, DONS REALIZED
Tom Morris reports …
Essendon and North Melbourne will play in Queensland this weekend in place of Marvel Stadium, with the two clubs scheduled to fly north today at 2 p.m. (AEST).
As reported by foxfooty.com.au, club-level meetings were held on Thursday morning as the AFL said it would be arriving quickly before round 18.
The Bombers in particular will stay outside of Victoria with games against GWS and Sydney in rounds 19 and 20.
The AFL is looking closely at Round 19 and Round 20 games to see if the teams move away this weekend.
9.15 a.m. – DOGS-SUNS VFL-SPIEL CANCELED
Western Bulldogs executive director Ameet Bains said his club’s VFL fight against the Gold Coast Suns on Saturday had been canceled.
The dogs flew into Queensland ahead of schedule amid a spike in COVID-19 cases in Victoria.
A VFL prelude between the Suns and Dogs should take place at the Metricon Stadium before the AFL clash between the same two clubs on Saturday.
But Bains told SEN’s Whateley that the VFL game would not continue as his club’s VFL team was now looking for alternative arrangements.
Bains said the Dogs would bring 24-25 players to Queensland.
9 AM – DEPARTURE!
The three clubs – the Giants, Swans, and Bulldogs – are on their way to Queensland.
Swans boss Tom Harley detailed the speed of the decision on Wednesday evening.
At the SEN breakfast on Thursday, Harley said he and the Giants had a conversation with the AFL shortly after 9 p.m. on Wednesday evening, in which it was announced that a move by Swans-Giants was a “possibility”. Both clubs immediately agreed to the change.
Five minutes after that decision, Harley said a text had been sent to the Swans players notifying them of the change in plans.
“That was pretty quick,” Harley told SEN Breakfast.
“The competition is now pretty well prepared to deal with it.
“I think talking about the prospects for Victoria and the Covid situation there, and of course the Covid situation in Sydney, it just offers some flexibility to get to Queensland. We don’t know how long, we don’t know what time the game is – we are still working on all these details and adjustments – but we’re on our way and it goes on. “
Harley said his club’s “main concern” is to reunite the players with their families after a three-week absence.
“We are working very closely with the AFL on what options there might be, and of course that will continue to be the case regardless of where the team is based,” he said.
OVERNIGHT – TRIO BUNDLED FOR QUEENSLAND
The Giants, Swans and Bulldogs will fly to Queensland Thursday morning to keep the AFL season going amid the recent COVID-19 outbreak in Victoria.
The state government announced that 11 new positive cases of Covid had been detected within 24 hours, tightening restrictions on wearing masks indoors and Western Australia heralding a tough border closure with Victoria.
As first reported on Wednesday evening by foxfooty.com.au, the Giants and Swans were involved in nightly discussions with the AFL, which led to the decision to relocate the teams from Victoria.
The two NSW teams will fly to Queensland at 8:45 a.m. (AEST).
This means that the Sydney Derby match will be relocated from Ballarat to Queensland, with a new venue having to be confirmed by the league.
Signs that swans can win the flag | 02:44
The Bulldogs will also fly to Queensland on Thursday, a day earlier than originally planned before their game against the Suns at Metricon Stadium.
It is believed the Bulldogs had planned to bring their entire roster to Queensland, as their VFL squad will also face the Suns in a prelude.
The Giants Swans match was scheduled to begin at 1:45 p.m. (AEST) in Ballarat, with the Suns Dogs’ first impact at 4:35 p.m. As Brisbane will face Richmond at the MCG on Friday night, there will be no games at The Gabba this weekend, which means the Sydney Derby could be played there.
AFL boss Gillon McLachlan said the league was ready to adjust to the situation in the short term.
“We will face all the challenges and changes that keep coming, and that’s all we’ve been doing for 18 months,” said McLachlan.
“They were worn by our fans with our ticketing and their ability to go (to football), our players and our staff, our coaches and their families and their children.
“People will keep doing it and they will bear a heavy burden whether players get banned or parents and partners are separated and they will do their part to get us through it all.”
OVERNIGHT – HOLY READY FOR QUARANTINE IF NEEDED
St Kilda’s football operations assistant Jarryd Roughead says his team would be ready to quarantine for a week in Perth if that would help keep the season going.
The Saints will play the West Coast Eagles at Optus Stadium on the night of Saturday 24 July – a date and time confirmed by the AFL earlier this week as part of the publication of Round 19 and 20 Games .
But the recent COVID-19 outbreak in Melbourne – and the resulting closure of WA’s border with Victoria – makes the game seem delicate.
In previous Covid-affected rounds this season, some Melbourne-based clubs traveled to WA and quarantined a week before their scheduled game.
AFL lets mistakes go unpunished | 01:51
When asked about Fox Footy’s AFL 360 whether this would be an option for St. Kilda, Roughead said, “According to some here, it might happen, but we haven’t heard anything.
“We still have to deal with Port Adelaide on Saturday night. But if that has to happen, then you really can’t argue against it. We had to come over and spend this week in Perth and then come home.
“I was in Sydney last time so there is no reason I shouldn’t go this time.
“It would be (a daunting prospect) because it’s not like Sydney. You would basically be tied to the hotel and only allowed to exercise and that’s basically it. So it would be very different from last time. “