The AFL made the brutal decision to call off the 2020 AFLW season and declare there would be no premier crowned.
The season had been under threat due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the AFL decided to bring forward the finals series but only managed to squeeze out week one of the playoffs.
The pandemic then became too much and the season was called off, with AFL executives deciding the season would have no premier and that there would be no postponement of the season.
There has been criticism aimed at the AFL in the wake of this decision with many fans feeling the men’s competition being postponed is a sign of where the AFL’s priorities lie.
— Ebony Antonio (@EbonyAntonio24) March 22, 2020
However, the logistics of postponing the AFLW season are not as simple as that of the men’s competition. That’s not to say it’s all that simple for the men’s game either.
But the challenges facing the AFLW are too much to overcome, especially in the competition’s infancy.
The players have commitments to state leagues once the elite competition finishes up, particularly the VFLW. The Victorian competition is a hot bed of AFLW talent during the winter months.
Some players are also under contract with their VFLW clubs and those commitments are vital as the player salary in the women’s game isn’t substantial enough to live off just yet.
Zero Hanger spoke to Channel 7 AFLW broadcaster Georgie Parker about the move to end the 2020 AFLW season.
“I really don’t think there is (any possibility of resumption),” Parker told Zero Hanger.
“The reality is AFLW players are on part time contracts for only 5five months of the year. Many move to play, and return to their home states to resume their lives outside of the game.”
Parker believes that there is no way we will see the 2020 season start up again.
“I don’t think it’s possible to do this, nor is it fair. What it has highlighted is the need for 12-month contracts, even if it is at a part time commitment.”
Another logistical issue facing the possibility of resuming the season later in the year is the short turnaround it would leave ahead of the 2021 AFLW season. It would only prove harder if the VFLW season managed to start their season, with players then playing from February through until possibly September before returning again to finish off the AFLW season.
With injuries in the women’s game already high it doesn’t make a lot of sense to have the players play so much football in such a short timespan.
There was discussion around possibly awarding the premiership to Fremantle who had gone through the home and away season undefeated.
Parker, a former Collingwood AFLW player, said that while a hard decision leave the 2020 premiership vacant, it was the right call.
“We have finals for a reason, and that is to award the premiership to the winner of a grand final.
“Again, no winners here and I know I personally would be absolutely devastated that a premiership (opportunity) may have been taken away from me as a player, but if it was handed to me, that ‘premiership’ wouldn’t feel like a real one.”
A lot of focus has been on AFL CEO Gil McLachlan during these unprecedented times, who has reportedly been working 20 hour days in a bid to keep the league afloat. Parker said he deserves a lot of credit.
“He’s had one of the toughest jobs in Australia. I feel for his well being at the moment.
“He looks as though he hasn’t slept in a week, he’s trying to keep as many stake holders as possible afloat and I don’t envy his position. I do hope he is ok.”
Zero Hanger reached out to the VFL for comment however they declined.