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AFL Season Return

Gillon McLachlan (left) 2019 AFL GF

AFL boss Gil McLachlan has been in consultation with all state governments, premiers, and medical officers about a return date, which could be as early as mid-June with 16 rounds and the Grand Final at the end of October. The league wants to do everything possible to conclude the season before the horseracing season which commences soon after the Grand Final under normal circumstances.

The prospect of hubs in their full capacity is looking more unlikely. The season could resemble the traditional format with a few exceptions. Fremantle and West Coast, both of whom oppose hubs as an option, ironically could be forced to play "home" games in other states due to West Australia's strict border restrictions. So far, the clubs have not had success convincing the WA state government to ease those restrictions.

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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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Judge Upholds Motion For Legal Action Against AFL

by Lisa Albergo reporting for AFANA from Chicago

In September of 2015, prominent Melbourne attorney Jackson Taylor filed court action against AFL CEO Andrew Demetriou, then assistant CEO Gil McLachlan and then chairman Mike Fitzpatrick over the league's handling of the Essendon supplements saga. In his motions, he cited the league for deceptive practices, misleading the public on the of the joint investigation, and their own responsibility regarding player health and safety.

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No Essendon Saga in 2017? Guess Again!

by Lisa Albergo reporting for AFANA from Chicago

Just when everyone thought the Essendon supplements saga was done and dusted, it has reared its dubious head once again. Ironically, it has been just about exactly four years since the Bombers came out and "self-reported" with a request that the AFL investigate the 2012 supplements program. Now, Melbourne's Herald Sun newspaper has obtained audio recordings of a crisis meeting which was held in August of 2013. Present at that meeting were chairman Paul Little (chairman), Jame Hird (coach), Mark Thompson (asst coach) and Danny Corcoran (football manager). The meeting was held to discuss the charges laid against the 34 players. The quartet are furious, believing the AFL had betrayed them and gone back on their word that the players would not be charged. In expletive-riddled conversations, all four express their anger at the league.

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Blues Historic Win in First AFLW Match

Troy Thompson reporting for AFANA from Melbourne, Australia

It was the kind of evening that Melbournians love to go out and watch sport. A comfortable 73 degrees at the start of the match and it drew the crowd that this historic occasion deserved. Before the match started it became clear that the ground was going to fill to capacity as numbers continued to stream in as the match got underway. They were here to see the debut match of the AFL Women's League.

Princes Park just north of the city has a long footy history and particularly the local Carlton supporters relished the chance to relive over a century of matches against their arch nemesis Carlton. It seemed to matter little that it was women playing in their club's colors as professionals for the first time.

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Footy World Reacts To Essendon Verdict

 by Lisa Albergo reporting for AFANA from Chicago

THE REACTIONS

Needless to say, almost everyone was shocked at the decision by the Court for Arbitration of Sport (CAS)- not so much the verdict itself but rather the severity. The 34 past and present players, their families, friends and supporters are devastated. The AFL, AFLPA and Essendon have all excepted the verdict and are and will be the ramifications.
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AFL Sued Over Essendon Saga

by Lisa Albergo reporting for AFANA from Chicago

Melbourne lawyer Jackson Taylor has filed a lawsuit against the AFL, claiming its conduct was misleading and deceptive in the handling of the Essendon supplements saga. The legal papers name chairman Mike Fitzpatrick and CEO Gillon McLachlan in the suit. Allegations include the AFL misleading the public on the results of the joint investigation and their own responsibility regarding player health and safety. The suit names former AFL boss Andrew Demetriou as well. Added to the claim of deceptive practices, Taylor's allegations include Demetriou and McLachlan tipping off Essendon and telling the club they had to come forward to "self-report" after the Australian Crime Commission's report on corruption in sports.

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Record Domestic Broadcast Deal for AFL

by Johnson Leung reporting for AFANA from Melbourne

Channel Seven, Foxtel and Telstra have retained Australian domestic TV rights for the AFL for six years, from 2017 to 2022, for a record breaking A$2.508 billion (US$1.84 billion), double the value of the 2012-2016 deal at A$1.253 billion. The AFL initially sought a broadcast deal that could last for 5-10 years and bring in as much as A$3 billion for the period. The League had repeatedly stated it was keen to conclude a new agreement by the end of 2015, even though it postponed talks for several months
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Gold Coast Drug Underbelly Exposed

by Lachlan Hellyer reporting for AFANA from Toronto

Photographs of Gold Coast Suns star Harley Bennell allegedly using illicit drugs in a Launceston (Tasmania) hotel room have been leaked to the press. Another Gold Coast Suns player confirmed to the club he was with Bennell on the night, though no photographs of him have been circulated, and his identity is not currently known.
Bennell Runs
This development comes in light of allegations made by disgraced former teammate of Bennell’s, Karmichael Hunt, that as many as 12 Gold Coast Suns footballers joined him for an end of season cocaine binge in 2014. The names of the players implicated by Hunt have not been made public. The images of Bennell, reportedly taken in March 2013, are a stark reminder that the AFL’s fight against illicit drug use is more serious than they may have been prepared to admit. The formative years of the Gold Coast Football Club will be forever tainted by its association with Karmichael Hunt. That is not to say that a Gold Coast player who took cocaine or any illicit substance is not entirely responsible for his actions. We are all just prisoners here of our own device, as the great Don Henley once sang.
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Adelaide Coach Murdered in Domestic Dispute

by Johnson Leung reporting for AFANA in Melbourne assisted by AFANA staff in Australia, Canada, and the USA

The Aussie Rules community is mourning the tragic death of Adelaide coach Phil Walsh at just 55. Police and ambulance crews were sent to Walsh's home at Somerton Park, a seaside suburb 7 mi southwest of Adelaide city center, just after 2 AM Friday Adelaide time (12.30 PM Thursday US EDT) following reports of family dispute. They found Walsh with multiple stab wounds to his body. Paramedics treated him on the scene, but he could not be revived. Walsh's wife of 28 years, Meredith, was admitted to Flinders Medical Center with leg wounds and discharged the following day.
Phil_Walsh_RIP
Walsh's son Cy, 26, was arrested by police a short time later outside a school friend's house at Glenelg East (1 mi north from Somerton Park), where he had been regularly staying. Cy was sent to the same hospital for psychiatric assessment and was charged with murder at a bedside hearing in Friday afternoon. He has since been moved to James Nash House, a secure mental health facility, and will remain in custody until a court hearing on September 15. We have details of the impact to US TV coverage toward the end of this article.
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