ADELAIDE and Port Adelaide are resigned to relocating into interstate hubs to begin training and restart matches following a major curveball from the SA government that "blindsided" them on Wednesday night.
In a letter sent to AFL chief executive Gillon McLachlan, the SA government denied both clubs the chance to bypass the state's 14-day self-isolation rules for arrivals and rejected contact training in SA until June 8.
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It left both the Crows and Power scurrying to make plans to move interstate that will continue to be devised on Thursday.
As a result, the AFL's hopes of announcing a 'return to training' date on Thursday – ideally as early as next week – will be delayed.
"I didn't go to sleep real quick last night … that was a shot [that] blindsided a lot of people late yesterday," Crows football director Mark Ricciuto told Triple M on Thursday.
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"As of this morning, I think the Adelaide Football Club will be preparing to play in hubs outside of Adelaide for pre-the games [sic] starting and maybe up to the first five weeks of the footy season so they can get some certainty in the program for the AFL."
Port Adelaide chairman David Koch said the Power's preference was to set up base in Queensland.
"It will put us at a severe disadvantage to the big Melbourne clubs and other interstate clubs along with the Western Australia clubs, but that will make victory even sweeter to get over those hurdles," Koch told Channel Seven on Thursday.
"Because we still need to represent South Australia in the AFL. What’s the option?"
The Crows and Power were hopeful to receive clearance to fly in and fly out of South Australia to play matches in other states before the bombshell letter on Wednesday.
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Instead, it appears they'll have no other choice but setting up a base in Victoria or Queensland for the immediate future.
Many players who have arrived into South Australia from interstate last week – including the Crows based in the Barossa Valley – are still required in their 14-day isolation until at least Tuesday next week.
The letter, signed by SA chief public health officer Professor Nicola Spurrier and SA Commissioner of Police Grant Stevens, was delivered on behalf of the state's committee formed to deal with the outbreak of COVID-19.
The letter said: "On public health advice, the Committee has resolved that any economic and social benefits to be gained by allowing modification or exemptions to SA quarantine requirements for AFL players and staff were not outweighed by the public health risk.
"This means that on entering South Australia, AFL players and staff would be required to quarantine for 14 days, without leaving the property at which they are quarantining.
"We acknowledge that for the AFL to recommence fixtures on its preferred timeframe this may require players and staff to travel to an alternate location for the medium term (Hub Model).
"The Committee also agreed that the restrictions on training for sport in South Australia should apply equally to the AFL. In South Australia, at Step 1 until 8 June, allows non-contact training in groups of up to 10.
"In addition to a modification or exemption being considered an unnecessary public health risk in South Australia, the Committee noted that as a highly visible part of society it is also important that the AFL model the behaviours expected from the public in general.
"The risk of complacency within the wider community rises if it is that these measures have diminished in importance."
On Wednesday, West Coast and Fremantle were investigating plans to house players in a quarantine hub in Gold Coast due to Western Australia's strict border restriction.