Thank you Footy Fans, 

That’s the clear message we want to send to every member and supporter of AFL clubs around Australia as we prepare for the return of football on Thursday night with Richmond meeting Collingwood at the MCG, to kick off round two of the 2020 Toyota AFL premiership season - the first game in more than two months. 
It is exciting to have footy back for you, our most loyal fans.
The AFL Commission and the AFL, led by Gillon as CEO, want to thank you for your support. Thank you for your patience. Thank you for your on-going passion and commitment to your AFL clubs.   
It has been important that we get our game back on for you – the millions of people who support our 18 AFL clubs and 14 AFLW teams - and also for all those who support and participate in community football across every part of Australia. 
We know how passionate football supporters are. We have seen how club members have rallied around their clubs during this pandemic - support which has been so important to clubs to be able to navigate through unprecedented times. 
Your ongoing support of the game has been vital through this period as we worked with Governments, Chief Health officers and medical authorities to return our game and to make sure we did it in a way that protects our players, officials, their families and the wider community.  
At a community level, across the country, it’s a different pace of return for the game depending on how we are going in each part of Australia, but more and more girls and boys, women and men, are preparing or training for the chance to be back amongst their team mates. 
We know how important football is to local communities and the significant impact this has had on local clubs and the volunteers who power football across Australia. Many clubs and leagues will look very different and there are regions and areas where football may not resume in the short term and will have to wait for 2021. 
We said at the start of this global pandemic that while we are a game, we are not the main game and our biggest responsibility as a code was to do whatever we could to help the community to flatten the curve and keep people safe. 
On behalf of the AFL, we want to thank all Governments and health officials, all the medical workers and essential services workers across Australia and the wider community, who have worked so hard and so long to protect us and reduce transmission.   
Our game thanks you all for providing us the environment where we have an opportunity to return to playing AFL games. We understand that with that opportunity comes a responsibility to have in place the appropriate protocols, approved by Government and health officials, to ensure the safety of all. 
The football may look different without crowds at the start but our players and clubs are excited to be back out there and can’t wait for the ball to bounce.    
We want to thank our AFL clubs, players, coaches and umpires, nearly all of whom are currently living under stricter conditions than the communities around them, to ensure we can play our games. We particularly want to thank the West Coast Eagles, Fremantle, the Adelaide Crows and Port Adelaide for temporarily moving to the Gold Coast in order to ensure the season can get underway. 
We want to thank the game’s broadcasters and major partners, who have stuck with us and allowed to bounce back after a unprecedented period.
But again, we want to come back to our fans. In a challenging environment, more than one million members have pledged themselves to clubs, knowing their support was vital as we all adjust to a new and different Australia. 
Thousands and thousands more of our fans are offering their support in any way they can, desperate to cheer their teams again. Thank you to every one of you. 
At the time our game was forced to halt, something that had never happened to us during Depressions or World Wars, the Commission’s clear position was that we had 18 AFL Clubs and 14 AFLW Clubs, and we would emerge with 18 and 14 teams respectively. 
To repeat, we will do that. 
We will also continue to support football at all levels. Our Commission, the AFL and our game will continue to invest in our next generation, continue to provide opportunities for girls and boys to play the game, continue to provide facilities for those who want to be part of a club, and welcome everyone who wants to be part our game.? 
There is role for you, be that as a player, a coach, an administrator, an umpire, a volunteer, a supporter, a member or a fan. 
Let’s bounce the ball and get started again.