AFL PLAYERS' Association boss Paul Marsh has told the AFL the ongoing player contract freeze must end if a significantly compressed fixture is to go ahead.
AFL.com.au revealed on Wednesday night the AFL was set to schedule 33 games across 19 days to complete rounds nine to 12, starting on July 29, two days after the completion of round eight.
The AFL is hoping to hold this year's Toyota AFL Grand Final on October 17, which is the same day as the Caulfield Cup is currently scheduled for.
However, the sticking point remains the contract situation that has prevented players locking away their future, particularly for those who are unsigned beyond this season.
AFL'S CONTRACT FREEZE Who are the winners and losers?
The injury risk that comes with the truncated fixture was "unacceptable" when footballers' futures were in doubt, Marsh said, even though it was "an extraordinary year" with the COVID-19 crisis.
Marsh had an online discussion on Wednesday with all players, who stated this issue was "critically important".
He has presented that stance to AFL chief executive Gillon McLachlan, and expected to hear back from him on Thursday.
"If we can't get this contract situation sorted out, then it becomes an unacceptable risk from the players' perspective," Marsh told SEN radio.
"So I think we then get back to just playing weekly, like we've been doing, which is an option. There's no reason the season couldn't extend for another three weeks.
"We've said since day one here that the players are prepared to play until the end of the year, and that hasn't changed. We may need that runway depending on where this virus gets to."
Remaining players from Victorian clubs and more family members could relocate to Queensland as early as Friday to stay at an AFL-organised hotel to serve the 14-day quarantine period.
They will rejoin their partners are that, while Marsh confirmed the AFL would cover all family expenses related to the hub stay.
Wives, long-term or "serious" partners – regardless of whether they're living together – and children all fit the criteria to join the hub.
"There will be players who won't take their families," Marsh said.
"I've certainly had conversations with players who just don't feel as though taking the families is the right decision for them, so we'll just deal with this on an individual, case-by-case basis."
Marsh hoped there would be "understanding" if any footballer chose to leave the hub to return to Victoria.
AFLPA chief executive Paul Marsh also discussed the following:
- The AFLPA had an initial agreement with the AFL that Victorian clubs would be based in an interstate hub for no more than 35 days but circumstances meant that had to change.
- Upcoming byes won't be at the same time and are likely to be scattered across three or four weeks but Melbourne and Essendon won't have one.
- The Northern Territory and Tasmania are likely to host matches at some stage this year.
- Players received their full wage for the first five months of the year and took a 50 per cent cut from there, so will receive about 72 per cent of their salary in 2020.
- There are two years to run on the collective bargaining agreement and the AFL must present to the AFLPA how COVID-19 has impacted the game this year and beyond.