THE 2020 Toyota AFL Premiership Season will resume on June 11.
FOOTY'S BACK AFL statement on season return
AFL chief executive Gillon McLachlan confirmed the date on Friday afternoon when detailing the 'return to play' plan that includes a resumption of training next week.
Clubs will begin non-contact training in groups of up to eight from Monday May 18 before a full-scale return to contact training, with two sessions a week, is introduced from May 25.
After initial swabs this week, players and officials will be tested for COVD-19 at least 24 hours before each session in order to have results returned before beginning the sessions.
A fixture for the opening four weeks of matches will be released inside the next 10 days.
"Today is a significant step in getting footy back for everyone - our fans, our clubs, players, coaches, officials and staff, our broadcast and corporate partners and club partners and all who love the game," McLachlan said on Friday.
"We know as this situation continues to evolve, we have to remain agile and flexible to be able to adapt where necessary while ensuring we continue to prioritise the health and welfare of our players, staff and the wider community and - importantly – don't place any burden on the public health system.
"We have developed our model as the best option for returning to play for both players and officials and the general public and have done so following extensive consultation, including with the Federal, State and Territory Governments and Chief Health Officers."
The first match back on June 11 will mark 81 days since the season was postponed due to the outbreak of the coronavirus.
Four clubs – West Coast, Fremantle, Adelaide and Port Adelaide – will soon base themselves at two golf course resorts on the Gold Coast, and then play a series of matches against each other and the Suns and Lions.
Plans for those clubs to be based on the Gold Coast are in place for at least the first four weeks of the season.
Due to SA regulations that enforce no contact training until June 8, the Crows and Power will need to move to the Gold Coast ahead of May 25 to conduct full training.
The WA-based clubs have been granted an exemption for contact training from May 25 and will depart for the Gold Coast closer to matches resuming.
Players and official across the whole competition will be subjected to heavier restrictions in terms of social distancing to protect the health and safety of the industry compared to the general public.
A framework of sanctions – that have been agreed upon in consultation with the AFLPA – will be released in coming days and will punish players or officials should they break the protocols put in place.
"They'll be graded, in the drafts I've seen there's intentional, reckless and careless and there will be specific examples of guide sanctions," McLachlan said.
"Each household will be subjected to risk.
"We'll be really tough on that now it's been established that the protocols are part of the rules and we'll be as transparent as we can about the accountability of those."
McLachlan also confirmed:
- The AFL will cover all costs for the Crows, Power, Eagles and Dockers in the quarantine hubs and their families
- Families inside hubs will be subjected to the same testing and distancing protocols
- The Crows and Power will share the Mercure Resort and Eagles and Dockers will be housed at The Pines Resort
- Umpires and key match day staff will also be subjected to COVID-19 when the season resumes
- Matches for the remainder of the season will be released in blocks of 4-6 weeks
- The finals series will continue as a traditional four-week model
- The default position for the 2020 Toyota AFL Grand Final location remained for it to be played at the MCG on a fluid date in October
- AFL football operations boss Steve Hocking would soon confirm whether the interchange bench would increase to six