THIRTY-THREE matches will be played across 19 consecutive days as part of the AFL’s plans to fast-track the completion of the home and away season.
The matches will effectively be rounds nine to 12 of the 2020 season. The jammed sequence will start on Wednesday, July 29, two days after the completion of round eight.
It is understood six clubs will be given byes in that period, with another 10 clubs to be given a bye before the conclusion of the home and away season at round 17.
Two clubs – Essendon and Melbourne – will be considered to have already had their “byes”, given the postponement of their round three match, due to Bomber Conor McKenna recording a positive test to the coronavirus. That match is yet to be re-fixtured.
Exactly 100 matches of the COVID-19 interrupted 2020 season remain, and with all 10 Victorian clubs to be based outside of their state – eight in Queensland and two in Western Australia – for the remainder of it, the AFL has set itself the task of playing the remaining 11 rounds inside nine weeks.
The rounds nine-12 block of games will be released next week.
Victorian clubs exited Melbourne after the completion of round five, and were initially told they would be away for 32 days.
But with the Victorian government placing metropolitan Melbourne into severe lockdown due to a second wave of COVID-19 infections, the AFL has since all but conceded that there will be no further home and away matches in that state this year.
Collingwood and Geelong are currently in Perth and will play each other at Optus Stadium on Thursday. They will then play the two Perth teams in their next two matches, before joining a hub in Queensland.
Hawthorn and Carlton will replace them in Perth. It is believed another two Victorian teams will also head west once the Hawks and Blues complete their three matches each.
When told by the AFL on Wednesday morning of the need to stay in Queensland hubs for the remainder of the home and away season, clarity was sought by the clubs on the scheduling of matches leading in to the finals, with some wanting rounds 16 and 17 to be fixtured in a “traditional” Thursday to Sunday manner.
AFL CEO Gillon McLachlan on Wednesday said the finals series would be in traditional format, and at this stage, the Grand Final is still scheduled for October 24 at the MCG.
But the massive assistance afforded the AFL by the Queensland state government in allowing the Victorian teams to be based in that state means the Gabba, in Brisbane, or Metricon Stadium, on the Gold Coast, are now box-seating to host the Grand Final.
One of the many major concerns for the AFL and its Victorian clubs remains the significant distraction that will be caused when and if the teams return to Victoria.
There will be no problems getting the teams back home, but quarantine requirements and border shutdowns in other states in getting them back out may prove impossible.
Story – AFL.com.au