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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."

Matches for the remaining 16 weeks of the shortened season will be released in blocks of 4-6 weeks with finals remaining on a four-week schedule. It is also still planned that the Grand Final will be at the MCG. AFL Operations Manager Steven Hocking has yet to confirm whether or not the interchange bench will be increased.

Due to Western Australia and South Australia refusing to ease their border restrictions and two-week quarantine requirements, those teams will relocate their base of operations to the Gold Coast. All four clubs from those states including players and staff will be based at two golf course resorts. The AFL already is calculating into the planned schedule early games between the four "visiting" teams against each other and Gold Coast and Brisbane since those two are in close proximity to the relocation site. The AFL will be picking up the tab for the relocations. 

All 18 clubs were required to cut staff to just 25 people. The AFL issued the requirement so clubs cut costs. Each club was required to retain a doctor, psychologist, and welfare manager.  There will be a strict set of guidelines for all involved. A thorough education program will be enforced before entry into the hubs. The league is leaving it up to the four relocated clubs regarding whether family members of players and staff joining them at the new hubs. Any family members who do travel to the new headquarters will be subjected to the same protocols as everyone else.

The league, in consultation with the AFLPA, has come up with a framework of sanctions for breaches of the protocols. The punishments will "fit the crime" so to speak rather than blanket sanctions, According to McLachlan, "... They'll be graded ... intentional, reckless, and careless ..." and the framework will give examples.

In another development, no AFL listed player is allowed to play in the VFL if selected for the senior team, so the VFL has decided to cancel their season for the year. The AFL clubs will need to find an alternative to their senior players when not selected. It could consist of non-selected players training with each other under the protocols or some sort of "mini-teams" in match simulation. During the season hiatus, all clubs laid out training regimens for their players, and players and coaches were able to maintain contact.

Source: afl.com.au, foxsports.com.au, 7news.com.au

Article last changed on Thursday, May 21, 2020 - 12:42 PM EDT


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