CLUBS will have until Friday to nominate a group of up to 20 top-up players after the AFL announced its rules for the 'COVID contingency list'.

The players can be accessed via each club's current aligned state league sides or second tier teams, through over-age Next Generation or Northern Academy players in each club's program or from designated standalone state league teams which have been allocated to clubs.

If a club is down to 30 already listed available players as a result of the COVID health and safety protocols, a club may will be allowed to activate a player from their contingency list to participate in training.

FULL AFL STATEMENT New COVID contingency plan

If that number falls below 28 available players, then the club will be able to pick the player to feature in an AFL game but the clubs will need to prioritise the selection of AFL-listed players where possible. Only if the number of available players is impacted by COVID protocols – and not through regular injury and fitness issues – will a top-up player be eligible to play. 

New AFL general manager of football Brad Scott has worked closely with state leagues and clubs on the implementation of the rule, which will only be put in place if COVID issues strike a club during the season.

"In a national sport, played across many states and territories, we need to be able to adapt, and adapt quickly to the COVID-19 conditions at any one time at locations where home teams are based, or away teams are travelling to. These guidelines help us achieve that while providing potential opportunities for talented players plying their craft in state league competitions to play football at the elite level," Scott said.

"Through these guidelines, we have worked together with state leagues to ensure minimal impact or disruption to their respective competitions."

Brad Scott during North Melbourne's 'debt free' media announcement at Arden Street Oval in November, 2021. Picture: AFL Photos

The list has also been established as the AFL continues to press home that the fixture will remain as scheduled this season and that it intends on playing through any player unavailability under COVID protocols. 

While the Victorian-based clubs will have access to players in their state league affiliates, the four northern clubs – Brisbane, Gold Coast, Sydney and Greater Western Sydney – will have access to their own VFL sides as well as players from standalone VFL clubs.

Brisbane (Coburg and Port Melbourne), the Giants (Frankston and Williamstown), Sydney (Northern Bullants and Werribee) and Gold Coast (Southport) will be able to add players from the respective clubs, which gives opportunities to those within the state league who are not already tied to affiliated clubs. 

Adelaide and Port Adelaide will be able to list players from their SANFL side as well as each of their Next Generation Academy-aligned standalone clubs in that competition, but details are still being finalised for the plans on Fremantle and West Coast and their linked clubs under the contingency plan.

Although clubs will have access to the players for short-term fixes under COVID contingencies, they will not have any holding rights over players for either the mid-season or end of year drafts. It means that theoretically a player could possibly play for two different teams in a season – once in the first half of the year as a COVID contingency player and secondly as a mid-season recruit thereafter.