Daynze Zorko and his Lions teammates will travel to Melbourne. Picture: Getty Images)
Daynze Zorko and his Lions teammates will travel to Melbourne. Picture: Getty Images)

Lions brace for $5m coronavirus hit

THE Brisbane Lions are bracing themselves for a $5 million shortfall from playing in empty stadiums this season.

As the financial implications of the coronavirus crisis truly hits home, Lions CEO Greg Swann said cost cutting measures had been enforced as his club attempted to deal with the pandemic's fallout.

A 17-round AFL season is set to start on Thursday night in empty grounds.

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"We're all facing big financial challenges," Swann said.

"From a games' perspective it's probably going to cost us the best part of $5 million if we don't play in front of crowds.

"Then there's obviously a lot of other corporate hospitality that we would normally get that we won't at this stage while there's no crowds.

"All the clubs are tightening their belts. We're all going through cost savings.

"The players have agreed to take a pay cut, our staff have, we've put staff on reduced hours … the business is pretty much grinding to a halt because we just can't deliver on those things we normally do."

The Lions are scheduled to start their season on Sunday against Hawthorn at the MCG, with the club and the AFL taking a host of precautions.

The Brisbane Lions are bracing for a huge financial hit. Picture: Getty Images
The Brisbane Lions are bracing for a huge financial hit. Picture: Getty Images

The Brisbane playing group and coaching staff will fly to Melbourne on a chartered flight, use designated areas of the airport, get a bus off the tarmac and will have an entire hotel floor to themselves.

"There are strong measures to keep us isolated, get us in and out without too much interaction with the general public," said Swann, who added the Gabba was in "lockdown".

"The majority of staff are now working from home. Unless you're in the footy program, even our part-timers, everybody is pretty much locked out now - we're isolating the players.

"We're really healthy from an injury point of view, and certainly from a virus point of view.

"All of our players trained (on Tuesday). Pretty much the place (the Gabba) was deserted, other than the players and the coaches."

Swann said a 17-round season made sense, believing it was inevitable that an AFL player would test positive to coronavirus.

"We'll close the comp down for a while, and we might reconvene at a later stage. Seventeen rounds now takes that pressure off to not have to deliver 22 games," he said.