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AFL Travel Logistics and Attendances

With the season set to restart on June 11th and the next four rounds now scheduled, there are logistical issues facing multiple clubs regarding travel. Both Essendon and North Melbourne are scheduled to play in New South Wales on the same day in round two. Essendon against the Swans and North against Greater Western Sydney. While travel arrangements are not confirmed, it appears Essendon and North will share a chartered jet to Sydney and return the same day. 

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AFL Announces New Schedule as Season Restarts

Dustin Martin. Photo: Kim Densham

After last week’s announcement by AFL CEO Gillon McLachlan that the 2020 season would resume on June 11th, the League revealed the schedule for Rounds 2-5 on Monday afternoon (AEST). As widely expected, Richmond and Collingwood would kick off Round 2 on Thursday, June 11th, followed by Geelong hosting Hawthorn on Friday night, June 12th, the first time since round 3, 2006, that the two teams will clash at the Cats’ home ground of GMHBA Stadium.

Brisbane and Fremantle will meet at the Gabba on Saturday June 13th, followed by Carlton and Melbourne at Marvel Stadium. On Saturday night, Gold Coast will host West Coast while Adelaide will take on Port Adelaide in the Showdown at Adelaide Oval, before the two teams relocate their operation bases to the Gold Coast. The Showdown game was made possible after the South Australian Government allowed Crows and Port players to complete full contact training at home. Because there are currently no senior field umpires based in Adelaide, four umpires will fly into the city this week to undergo 14 days of quarantine before the game.

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AFL Season Returns June 11th

AFL CEO Gillon McLachlan has announced that the AFL season will resume on June 11th. Just prior to the announcement, teams were permitted to begin non-contact training in groups of no more than 10. Teams will now be allowed to begin full contact training on the 25th. However, training will be limited to two sessions per week. Players and officials from all clubs will be required to be tested 24 hours before each training session. When matches do resume, umpires will also be tested. Testing will continue for all for the duration of the season.

The league is still working on the schedule for the season but is expected to have that by the end of the month. In making the announcement, McLachlan said, "Today is a significant step in getting footy back ... as this situation continues to evolve, we have to remain agile and flexible to ... adapt ... while ... we continue to prioritize the health and welfare of our players, staff, and the wider community and ... don't place any burden on the public health system."

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AFL Moves Closer to Restart

Did you say Gold Coast Eagles?

On the day the AFL began COVID-19 testing of AFL players, its hopes of restarting the competition were rocked by a letter from the South Australian government. The AFL intended to have a three-week training period for all teams, in a lead-up to the first AFL game in mid-June. The league looked set to announce an opening game on June 11th, between Collingwood and Richmond, but those plans may now be derailed. The South Australian government has ruled-out an exemption for AFL teams entering its closed borders without a mandatory 14 day quarantine. The Crows and Power were planning to fly in and out of South Australia on a weekly basis, to play in Victoria. In a further blow, the South Australian Government has also stipulated that no football players in South Australia can train in groups of more than ten (and training must be non-contact) until June 8th. The Crows and the Power will now have to find a training base at an east coast location, as soon as possible, if the league is to meet its mid-June restart date.

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AFL Shuts Down

Gillon McLachlan, 2019 Grand Final

Just hours before the end of round one, the AFL announced the season will postponed until at least the end of May due to the decision of several state governments to impose restrictions on travel due to the COVID-19 virus. The postponement will be reviewed at the end of April. The AFLW season, which just finished the semi-finals, has been completely canceled with no premiership awarded. The league did go ahead with the West Coast vs Melbourne match, the last of the round, which had yet to get underway. In a statement, CEO Gil McLachlan said, "...  this is the most serious threat to our game in 100 years ... It is unprecedented in the impact it is having on our game and the wider community ... we all need to take the unprecedented and required actions to get through this ... everyone involved in our game and our millions of supporters will be impacted ... and that many people will suffer significant hardship as are people right across the community but I also know that we all have a responsibility to the community and each other."

After Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced the latest series of drastic measures on Sunday morning,

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AFL Getting International Attention

American Mason Cox at a Ruck Contest

Before and during the opening round of the AFL, footy was getting attention internationally. This was due to the AFL continuing to play while so many other sports were on hold. Links to the various articles are below. While some make only brief references to footy, others are more in depth with stories about more American fans discovering footy with games played despite the COVID-19 pandemic. Articles often included brief outlines of the rules. Several journalists have already become fans and will continue to watch when the league recommences. Some of the articles have fan or Twitter comments, or video clips.

During the televised broadcast of the game between Melbourne and West Coast, commentator Gerard Healy asked if someone could explain for American viewers why it is only a point when the ball hits the goal post but no point when it hits the behind post. One of his colleagues said it was just the rules and that is how it had always been. (Click on "Read more >" to see the links.)

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AFL Season Suspended

The AFL announced on Sunday, Australian time, that the season would be suspended following the conclusion of round one. Our staff, reporters, photographers, and staff working on areas like TV and radio schedules, tipping contents, etc. are hard at work on news articles and schedule changes occurring as a result. We'll be posting more here today and tomorrow. Stay tuned.

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Tex Says Stream Games To USA

Walker Kicks for Goal

Adelaide forward Taylor "Tex" Walker was interviewed on a Triple M radio morning show and came up with an idea to help spread the game and give sports fans something to watch with other competitions canceled or postponed.

He said the AFL should stream games directly to the United States, saying it could "... open a new market of AFL fans." He understands the AFL wanting to shorten games and possibly have games played on non-traditional days during the week "... trying to cram games in before a case occurs... " and added, “Put on a show for people sitting at home wanting to watch something.”

(Ed. note: apparently Mr. Walker is unaware that they already do so via WatchAFL.)

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AFL Secondary Programs Postponed

Houli Kicks Away

Two days prior to the scheduled start of round one, the AFL advised all leagues and Auskick centers across the country. that all activities and operations will be postponed until the end of May. The recommendation also applies to AFL community matches, AFL community training sessions and face to face AFL, WAFC (West Australian football) and SANFL (South Australian) education courses. Among the affected programs affected are the Rio Tinto program, the Bachar Houli programs, the junior Boomerang team, the international cup, and wheelchair league.

in a statement released by the AFL, the league is "... determined to be part of the ... response to slow the COVID-19 virus down and ... help the broader community and our health systems manage the situation as effectively as possible."

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COVID-19 Virus Impacting AFL

Pendlebury In Action

In the wake of the COVID-19 international pandemic, the AFL has decided to cut the season to 17 rounds and suspend all second-tier competitions and talent pathways until the end of May. There is also the possibility of Round One being postponed. It was due to commence on Thursday, March 19th (US EDT). The shortened season would see teams play each other just once. The AFL had previously announced that no fans would be allowed to attend matches. While some of the Round Six AFLW games had attendances, others did not. The remaining AFLW matches will be played with no fans in attendance. AFL boss Gil McLachlan said at the first sign of any player testing positive would bring the competition to a halt for a minimum of two weeks.

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