AFL season restart date revealed
The AFL season will resume on June 11.
AFL.com.au reports all clubs were told in an online hook-up this morning about the date after the campaign was suspended after one round because of coronavirus.
It follows weeks of negotiations between the league, state governments and health officials around steps towards the return of the season.
AFL CEO Gillon McLachlan will front a press conference at 12.45pm AEDT but in a radio interview with 3AW this morning, he confirmed teams will be back training on Monday, with full contact training to take place from May 25.
"I feel that we've got everything in place now to announce we'll be back to training on this coming Monday," McLachlan said.
"Every club will be training out of its home base in their home states for at least a week.
"We'll be able to go to contact training twice a week after testing in our protocols from the 25th of May then we'll be training for a few weeks, enough to make sure the players and coaches feel they've had a body of work to play matches without significant risk of injury."
McLachlan said one detail the AFL hasn't finalised just yet is the fixture, which he predicted will be announced next week, as the league still irons out which games will be played on a fly-in, fly-out basis and which will be played in "hubs".
McLachlan also said players will be tested twice a week for coronavirus.
"It'll be a period before every contact training session 24 hours out and the results will be back before they have a contact training session or a match," he said.
A Thursday night fixture between Victorian heavyweight clubs Collingwood and Richmond has been mooted for the season re-opener, and a flexible fixture beyond the first month of the restart will give the AFL the ability to manipulate the schedule if and when state border restrictions change again.
Existing restrictions in Western Australia and South Australia have dictated that West Coast, Fremantle, Adelaide and Port Adelaide will temporarily relocate to Queensland hubs, expected to be on the Gold Coast.
SA clubs will need to complete their mini-pre-season campaigns in hubs because of their home state's refusal to grant them special training exemptions from current restrictions.
The temporary relocations mean the WA and SA clubs will be at what Port Adelaide chairman David Koch described as a "significant disadvantage". But with those states' restrictions in place and a desire from the AFL to play the remaining 144 matches as soon as possible, there are few other realistic options available.
West Coast captain Luke Shuey said his club was prepared to do what they had to for the sake of the competition.
"We realise we're going to have to travel at some stage and be away for a certain amount of time," Shuey told Fox Footy on Thursday night. "Fortunately for us we're used to travelling, albeit not for up to four or five or six weeks.
"But we need to get a season going, not just for us, but for footy fans around the country and give people a show.
"The quicker we can do that, the better off we'll be."