Thanks everyone for coming on short notice.
We wanted to provide an update out of the Club presidents meeting today, and more specifically on the Coronavirus and the AFL's current position.
Firstly, at all times, our number one priority is the health and safety of all our people and supporters.
It is at the core of all our decision making, and you look no further than the relocation of the Shanghai game as evidence of this.
Like all companies around Australia, we continue to take the advice from the Australian Government and the relevant medical authorities across the states and territories.
The safety of our players, staff at clubs, our venues, our supporters and even our own office is paramount, so it is important that we take the advice of those that know best.
That advice to date – like for the rest of the country – is for people to take care of their personal hygiene and to get themselves checked if they feel like they have flu-like symptoms – but also to go about their usual routine whether work, personal lives or sport.
The Victorian Government has signalled today that it is likely large public gatherings will be impacted at some stage in the future and it is prudent that we are prepared and planned.
We have taken the step of forming a working group to coordinate any response and provide protocols to clubs.
Our clubs, players and fans should know that if a response is required, then we will be well planned and ready– but again I would remind everyone that we rely on the advice of the relevant experts.
If mass gatherings are suspended then we will play games in stadiums with no crowds.
We are also working on other protocols to protect not only players and staff but our members and supporters.
At an AFL club level, our football departments are elite sporting environments.
Club doctors and medical staff are well equipped to work through any precautionary measures and manage any player health concerns – this is something they continue to do on a daily basis as they prepare for the season.
As an industry we will continue to work through these measures in all states and territories but we understand that as part of the wider community, our first priority is to ensure we do everything we can to keep the community safe and well.
I would also like to remind people that we have played football for the past five weeks through the AFLW, Marsh Series and the State of Origin match. Across the country, over 350,000 fans have attended the footy so far this year.
Our game is strong. Over the past few years we have worked hard as an industry to build a strong balance sheet with a Future Fund that has enabled us to invest in revenue-generating assets.
That strategy will allow us to work through whatever challenge is ahead of us and our clubs to support the game.
We will continue to take the advice of the Government and make preparations based on that advice.
We are planned and while it might get complicated, the game always finds a way.