AFL boss Gillon McLachlan has looked to reassure clubs as the league plans a return for the 2020 season.
As reported by SEN’s Sam Edmund, all 18 clubs were sent a memo from the league regarding the games future’, with the AFL having formed a work group called “Project Return” to assist in the bounce back of the league from the coronavirus pandemic.
While McLachlan looks to have a “clear path forward”, he has warned club chiefs that the effects from the coronavirus pandemic will have a significant impact on the 2021 and 2022 seasons.
“Another critical piece of planning being led by Walter Lee … is looking forward to 2021/2022 and how we deal with the significant impact this crisis will have not just on this year, but subsequent years,” McLachlan writes.
“We know the industry structures will look different, but it does not mean they will be less. They have to be different to reflect the changed environment, with new priorities and a sharper lens on what delivers value for football.
“There are implications for all of us and every aspect of our game, but … there are also huge opportunities to build the bottom-up model that has been difficult historically to change because of entrenched structures.”
League officials remain confident that clubs will play out the remaining 16 rounds of football, plus finals, this season and potentially have the remaining fixtures completed from one city.
“The critical question is if, when and how we are going to get our season away,” McLachlan writes.
“There are a range of different scenarios being looked at. The hub alternatives being speculated about in the media are some of those scenarios and involve discussions with a wide range of stakeholders.
“We are working through all the scenarios, but I will say … that placing all the individuals required in a controlled environment is one of the scenarios that is under consideration.
“I can’t emphasise enough that the health and wellbeing of everyone in our industry, and the wider community, has been our overriding focus since day one of this issue and it will continue to be the most important element of our planning.
“We will be guided by Federal, State and Territory governments about what is possible … and we will continue to work within their advice as to when and how it is right to return to play.”
The league has further reassured clubs regarding their financial status, confirming a line of credit being secured and a fair distribution between clubs until October 31.
“This is going to be a very tough period for everyone,” McLachlan said.
“There are going to continue to be lumps and bumps along the way, miscommunications, things we haven’t thought of, tough calls, but we will stay united, as transparent as possible and agile and flexible and work through them and come out of this different, but just as strong.”
The AFL has also said clubs will receive more confirmation on their budgets by mid-April.