AFL 2020 premiership officially postponed

The 2020 AFL premiership has officially been postponed until May 31st, AFL CEO Gillon McLachlan has confirmed.

AFL CEO Gillon McLachlan spoke to the media on Sunday afternoon, confirming the clubs had been notified the season has been temporarily shut down.

"Today, after a meeting with the AFL commission, the AFL has moved to immediately suspend the 2020 Toyota AFL premiership season," McLachlan said.

"We will conclude the NAB AFL women's season as a result of the continued spread of the COVID- 19 virus.

"Today's match in Perth between the West Coast Eagles and Melbourne will be the final match before the AFL season goes into a temporary halt. Games will be suspended until May 31, 2020.

"The decision by various State Governments to close their borders and travel bans and other measures, meant it was time to immediately stop the AFLW and AFL competitions.

"All AFL club training will be suspended while we work with the clubs on the best way to manage players ahead of games being resumed."

"The AFL industry is facing its biggest financial crisis in our history, but our key priority is to do everything possible to keep players, staff and supporters healthy and well through this pandemic.

"Our industry provides livelihoods for thousands and thousands of people, but our key focus at the moment, like every organisation in the country, is to do everything that needs to be done to slow the spread of this virus - to keep people as healthy as possible.

"To say that this is the most serious threat to our game in 100 years is an understatement. It is unprecedented in its impact."

Sunday's scheduled Hawthorn vs Brisbane and West Coast vs Melbourne games will complete round one.

McLachlan also confirmed the AFL is still committed to play the remaining 144 matches of the 2020 season, which was reduced to 17 rounds amid the global health crisis.

The AFLW competition was also been cancelled, with no premiership to be awarded in 2020.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced on Sunday morning all non-essential travel would be cancelled, sparking discussion about whether the AFL classifies as "essential" or not.

However, after South Australia revealed its borders would close from 4pm Tuesday, it became apparent the competition could not continue.

"There's no winners today," McLachlan said to reporters.

 

More to come...

AFL CALL EMERGENCY MEETING

The AFL will hold an urgent teleconference with club chief executives on Sunday afternoon, the premiership on the verge of being shut down, The Age journalist Daniel Cherny reported.

South Australia announced their borders would be closed from 4pm on Tuesday. A compulsory 14-day self-isolation period will be enforced on anyone entering South Australia after that date, meaning it has become increasingly unlikely the AFL premiership will continue next weekend.

Earlier on Sunday morning, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced all non-essential travel would be cancelled, sparking discussion about whether the AFL classifies as "essential" or not.

Channel 7 broadcaster Jason Richardson tweeted, "AFL will have to cease under the new rules".

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GOVERNMENT STATEMENT DAMNS AFL

The AFL season is under threat of being postponed after tighter restrictions were introduced by the Australian Federal Government today in an effort to reduce the coronavirus spreading.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced on Sunday morning all non-essential travel would be cancelled, sparking discussion about whether the AFL classifies as "essential" or not.

"We are moving immediately to recommend against all non-essential travel in Australia," Morrison said.

"All non-essential travel should be cancelled.

"Essential travel, what we are referring to is work-related travel that could be essential, it could be compassionate grounds, but also, when it comes to essential supplies and other important arrangements needed to keep Australia running."

It is unknown to what extent these travel restrictions will impact professional sport, but when asked if the AFL season will come to an end, Morrison said authorities would consider "new arrangements".

"I'm sure we can work those issues through on a practical case-by-case basis," Morrison said.

"The principle is very important … We will work this those agencies (AFL and NRL)."

The Age journalist Daniel Cherny reported the AFL will hold an urgent teleconference with club chief executives on Sunday afternoon, the premiership on the verge of being shut down.

Speaking on Channel 9's Sunday Footy Show, sports broadcaster Damian Barrett warned the impact on the AFL premiership could be "drastic".

"I can't see it going any further than today after what Scott Morrison has just said," Barrett said.

"My gut feel is there won't be round 2 next weekend."

Essendon star Devon Smith said AFL players were unsure whether the season would go ahead, but was hopeful round two would proceed as planned.

"We're getting the best advice and going through all the health and safety measures that we've been advised of at the football club," Smith said.

"If we shut it down now who knows how long it can be.

"But I'd fully understand if they did shut the whole game down. It's a unique situation. Us as players have to be pretty flexible as to whatever happens."

Round one of the 2020 AFL premiership commenced on Thursday
Round one of the 2020 AFL premiership commenced on Thursday

 

Former AFL player Billy Brownless blamed the image of a crowded Bondi Beach that circulated social media on Friday as an instigator for the Federal Government's decision.

"They've really fired up after that, and they're going to come down hard after that," Brownless said.

However, Channel 9 political editor Chris Uhlmann was more blunt in his assessment of the situation.

"Even from what the Prime Minister said today, all non-essential travel, that is the end of the AFL and NRL season. That is before the national cabinet tonight," Uhlmann said.

The Australian sports reporter Peter Lalor asserted the AFL needs to "set an example" amid the global health crisis.

"I'm loving the football as a distraction but physical health is a higher priority than mental at this stage and the AFL needs to set an example for those who think they do not need to make urgent changes to their behaviour. Empty stands and no high 5s are only gestures," Lalor tweeted.

NewsCorp finance writer Sophie Elsworth tweeted, "The season should have never started … How on earth is the AFL still allowed to go on? Absolutely ridiculous."

Courier Mail sports reporter Greg David tweeted, "What is it going to take for them to suspend their season?"

ROUND ONE SUNDAY FIXTURES

North Melbourne vs St Kilda - 1:10pm

Hawthorn vs Brisbane Lions - 3:20pm

West Coast Eagles vs Melbourne - 6:20pm

Originally published as AFL 2020 premiership officially postponed


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