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AFL Chief Announces Postponement of 2020 Season

“To say this is the most serious threat to our game in 100 years is an understatement,” explained Gillon McLachlan. “It is unprecedented in its impact.”

Centre bounce during the AFL round two match between Richmond and Collingwood on 30 March 2017 at the Melbourne Cricket Ground in Melbourne, Victoria

The AFL has suspended its 2020 season for at least two months, with the AFLW competition being scrapped entirely.

Flickerd/Creative Commons

Just days after Gillon McLachlan announced that the 2020 AFL premiership season would not be postponed, the game’s Chief Executive has reversed his stance, announcing a shutdown of at least two months.

While COVID-19 has seen the shutdown of countless events across the globe, last week saw draconian guidelines put into place regarding gatherings of over 100 people, and with it, the revelation that the 2020 AFL season would also be effected.

After days of deliberation and a four-hour AFL Commission meeting, McLachlan revealed that while the final two rounds of the AFLW season would be scrapped with finals commencing this weekend, the men’s league returned on Thursday night to an empty Melbourne Cricket Ground.

Now, following bans on “non-essential” domestic travel and similar businesses shutting down, McLachlan has issued another statement revealing that the AFL will be suspended for two months, while the 2020 AFLW season has been scrapped entirely with no premiership awarded.

“Today after a meeting of the AFL Commission, the AFL has moved to immediately suspend the 2020 Toyota AFL Premiership season at the conclusion of this weekend’s matches,” McLachlan said in a statement. “We’ll also conclude the NAB AFL Women’s season as a result of the continuing spread of the COVID-19 virus.

“Today’s match in Perth between West Coast Eagles and Melbourne will be the final match before the AFL season goes into a temporary halt. Games will be suspended until May 31, 2020.

“We will review the situation by the end of April to determine whether a further suspension period would be required.”

Adding that all AFL club training would be suspended immediately, McLachlan noted that the current resumption time of May 31st is still under review, with the AFL and its clubs set to “detail the drastic and immediate steps needed to be taken to cut costs” in the next 48 hours.

“The AFL industry is facing its biggest financial crisis in our history. But our key priority was to do everything possible to keep players, staff, and supporters healthy and well through this pandemic.

“Our industry provides livelihoods for thousands and thousands of people. But our key focus at the moment – like every organisation in the country – is to do everything that needs to be done to help slow the spread of this virus and to keep people as healthy as possible

“To say that this is the most serious threat to our game in 100 years is an understatement,” McLachlan added. “It is unprecedented in its impact. It is unprecedented in the impact it is having on our game and the wider community. And as a community and as a code, we all need to take the unprecedented and required actions to get through this together.”

This news comes just weeks after it was revealed that a future collective bargaining agreement could see male AFL players forced to take a pay cut in order to subsidise the wages of AFLW players. With this recent postponement, it is presumed that all discussions in this regard have similarly been postponed.

Read Gillon McLachlan’s full statement below.

Today after a meeting of the AFL Commission, the AFL has moved to immediately suspend the 2020 Toyota AFL Premiership season at the conclusion of this weekend’s matches.

We’ll also conclude the NAB AFL Women’s season as a result of the continuing spread of the COVID-19 virus.

Today’s match in Perth between West Coast Eagles and Melbourne will be the final match before the AFL season goes into a temporary halt.

Games will be suspended until May 31, 2020.

We will review the situation by the end of April to determine whether a further suspension period would be required.

Today’s AFLW semi-final between Carlton and Brisbane Lions will be the last NAB AFL Women’s match to be played, with the 2020 season ending today. Given the twin conference structure and that the finals series was not completed, the AFL Commission has determined no premiership will be awarded for this season. This is per a recommendation from the AFL Executive.

The decision by various State Governments to close their borders and travel bans and other measures meant it was time for the AFL to immediately stop the AFL and AFLW competitions.

All AFL club training would be suspended while we worked with the clubs on the best way to manage players ahead of games being resumed.

The 31 May, 2020 resumption time for the season will be reviewed and – depending on the medical advice and Government regulations in place at the time – the date could be extended out.

Over the next 48 hours the AFL and clubs will detail the drastic and immediate steps needed to be taken to cut costs.

The AFL industry is facing its biggest financial crisis in our history. But our key priority was to do everything possible to keep players, staff, and supporters healthy and well through this pandemic.

Our industry provides livelihoods for thousands and thousands of people. But our key focus at the moment – like every organisation in the country – is to do everything that needs to be done to help slow the spread of this virus and to keep people as healthy as possible

To say that this is the most serious threat to our game in 100 years is an understatement. It is unprecedented in its impact. It is unprecedented in the impact it is having on our game and the wider community. And as a community and as a code, we all need to take the unprecedented and required actions to get through this together.

I know that everyone involved in our game and our millions of supporters will be impacted by this decision 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 and we have the will to work collectively to overcome this crisis.

We were given advice by the Government and the Chief Medical Officers that it was right to start the season. But that advice also included that our season would be paused at some stage.

It was the right decision to start the season and today clearly it is now the right decision to stop. That is why we have acted immediately to take this step to play our role in the community and to protect the long-term future of our game.

The AFL plan is to play all remaining 144 games, plus finals, this year. The competition will need to remain agile and flexible on when those games were scheduled and when play returned. As I said the other night, we are prepared to run as late as possible in 2020 to complete the season if it was required.

Our focus over the coming days is working with the clubs to embed the medical protocols provided, to finalise the operating model for the clubs during the temporary suspension period and to work with out funding partners, to secure a line of credit, to fund cash shortfalls across the industry, while allowing the best possible chance for a return to football matches.

An alternative fixture based on a season of remaining 144 games, plus finals, will also be worked on over the coming weeks.

I want to thank the Federal and State and Territory Governments for their advice and support over the past few weeks. And I want to thank the whole football community, including broadcast and corporate partners of the AFL and clubs, our members and our supporters – for their support and understanding in what has been an unprecedented time in the game’s history.

I especially want to thank our staff, who have been tireless in working with everyone across football through this issue.

The only way that footy can find a way through is to continue to be agile, flexible and – most importantly – united.

In This Article: AFL, AFLW, coronavirus, covid-19