The AFL will be moving all of its Victoria based clubs to a hub in Queensland. It’s the competition’s latest bid to rescue its season from the coronavirus pandemic.
A number of teams had made interstate shifts north recently as multiple outbreaks across Victoria brought renewed lockdowns. Melbourne clubs Richmond, St Kilda, Essendon, Western Bulldogs, Carlton, North Melbourne are already in Queensland.
AFL boss Gillon McLachlan confirmed that the remaining Victorian teams would join them, operating from a hub in the Sunshine State for up to 10 weeks. Families of the players will be able to join them after a period of quarantine.
“The evolving situation has meant we have had to make decisions quickly. For this, I can’t thank clubs, players, coaches umpires, staff, broadcasters and corporate partners enough,” McLachlan told reporters on Wednesday.
“Understanding the ongoing situation in Victorian, Victorian teams will be based in Queensland for up to 10 weeks.
“For families of players who want to join them in Queensland, we will facilitate this.
Queensland the new base for AFL
While Victoria battles coronavirus outbreaks on multiple fronts, Queensland is currently in a state of near elimination. Of the 259 new cases of Covid-19 reported across Australia on Wednesday, 238 were in Victoria while none were in Queensland.
Travellers from Victoria are presently banned from entering Queensland, due to the outbreaks. Special arrangements have been granted by the Qld government for the AFL to temporarily base itself there.
“This is a clear plan and makes Queensland the base for our competition. We are not able to announce the fixtures yet but we are working with the AFLPA on what fixture compression is possible,” McLachlan said.
“I want to acknowledge the people of Victoria. This is a very tough time for individuals, families and businesses in this state. Our thoughts are with everyone who are dealing with the impact in the state.”
“It may be that we can come back to Victoria earlier and I believe we can get the season done in 10 weeks or under. I want to be open with the players and say that’s what we’re looking at.”
Great for Queensland businesses, says premier
Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk praised the AFL’s COVID-19 management. She also highlighted the benefits to local businesses.
“The AFL has approached Queensland to host more of its teams and players in our state,” she announced on Twitter.
“A short time ago I spoke to AFL CEO Gillon McLachlan. He is looking to book accommodation for hundreds of players and officials at Queensland hotels for two months. You can imagine what that means to those businesses.
“I stress none of these measures can happen without strict quarantine protocols and the COVID management plan that has allowed the AFL season to proceed.”