The AFL this morning has written to all 18 AFL clubs to remind them the current player training protocols that are in place will continue to apply until advised otherwise.
The AFL said it was continuing to work with all Governments on the return to play model and until this work was complete, all clubs had to follow the same strict training and isolation protocols that have been in place since March.
Those protocols include:
- Club facilities to remain closed, including club gyms;
- All coaching sessions and training programs must be provided remotely;
- Clubs can mandate fitness programs for players; however, they can only be conducted in isolation either at home or in an outdoor space which complies with government social distancing requirements;
- Ball work is permitted in open outdoor spaces and kick to kick with another single individual is permitted as long as social distancing is maintained and strict hygiene measures are employed (regular wiping of ball, washing/sanitising hands etc);
- GPS monitoring during the shutdown period is strictly not permitted;
- All medical services must be provided remotely.
The AFL will announce a Return to Train date and a Return to Play date later this week.
It will also release over the coming week the training protocols component of the AFL’s Return to Play protocols, designed to protect the health and safety of players, staff and the wider community.
The protocols, which were approved in principle by the AFL Commission at its meeting yesterday, are still being finalised.
TESTING AND COMPLIANCE
As the AFL continues to work with various Governments to confirm the Return to Play model, it also advised AFL clubs of a series of steps needed ahead of any return to club training.
- Clubs have been asked to nominate an internal Covid-19 Club Compliance Officer who will be responsible for ongoing player / staff education, leadership and compliance with the AFL Return to Play Protocols throughout the return of training and 2020 Toyota AFL Premiership season and promote the health, safety and welfare of all players, staff and the wider community. The AFL will provide education sessions in the coming days for each club Compliance Officer before teams return to training.
- All players and staff who will be expected to be at their club for the return to train period must undertake an initial Covid-19 swab test with tests to begin later this week. This is in addition to the daily health checks that club doctors have been undertaking with players and Football Department staff since mid-March.
FOOTBALL DEPARTMENT EXPENDITURE LIMITS
- Clubs were also advised of the football department expenditure limits which will apply during the Return to Train and Return to Play periods which will enable them to plan their staffing levels for the remainder of 2020 accordingly with further communications to be made with key Club staff over the coming days.
- The 2020 figure has been developed considering the significant operational and financial disruption caused by Covid-19 to the 2020 Toyota AFL Premiership Season and future years by a working party that includes key club representatives.
- The AFL will not prescribe every role the Club needs to employ under these revised expenditure limits, but the following roles must be filled:
- Club Doctor
- Player Development Manager
- Clubs were also advised of the requirements for staff who will have administration and training facility access when clubs do return to training.
- No AFL-listed player will be permitted to participate in a second-tier competition in 2020.
- The AFL is currently considering alternative arrangements where players not selected to play in their AFL team participate in matches between other AFL clubs in a controlled environment, in line with Government and AFL protocols, in order to have continuity in game play and improve their possibility for selection.
In the memo to clubs, AFL General Counsel Andrew Dillon said the competition ‘… must prioritise the health and safety of our players, Club staff and the community and this necessarily means minimising, wherever possible, person-to-person contact; the adoption of a rigorous testing regime; and strict compliance with the health and safety protocols.
“We must take a prudent approach to football department expenditure which recognises that a significant level of industry revenue has already been lost and there is further material risk to our financial position both this season and in future years,” he said.
Mr Dillon said the AFL was continuing to work with the various State Governments on the AFL Return to Train and Return to Play model and expects to be able to announce details in the coming days. He thanked the clubs and players and the wider industry for the ongoing cooperation as the AFL works towards a resumption in play.