Sport AFL delays call on season as players push to play

AFL delays call on season as players push to play

AFL chief Gillon McLachlan is optimistic positive news will flow out of state and federal governments and cancel out the need for long-term stays in hubs. Photo: AAP
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The AFL will wait until Wednesday to make a decision on whether Round 1 goes ahead as planned amid ongoing uncertainty surrounding the coronavirus crisis.

It leaves players in limbo before Thursday night’s season opener between Carlton and Richmond, which is due to be played behind closed doors at the MCG.

The delay of a final call comes as AFL and AFLW players confirmed their commitment to playing out their respective seasons after a series of meetings with the players association.

“Both playing groups have said to us that they want to continue to play if it’s safe to do so,” AFLPA chief executive Paul Marsh told reporters on Tuesday evening.

AFL Players Association chief executive Paul Marsh on Tuesday. Photo: AAP

AFL chief executive Gillon McLachlan announced on Monday the men’s 2020 season would be cut to 17 rounds to give the league breathing space around possible postponements.

But AFL players have since urged the league to consider a backflip and attempt to play out a full season of 22 matches per club, plus finals.

“The players want to play. The players will do everything they can,” Marsh said.

“They still have optimism of a 22-game season here.

“We’ve got a 40-week window and players will make sacrifices around scheduling and leave and everything else to try to give the industry a chance of surviving this or getting through this.”

Marsh said players had accepted they would need to take a pay cut at some point as the AFL faces a major loss of revenue.

But he said negotiations on that front would be drawn out and indicated an agreement may not be reached for months.

“Everyone’s hurting here and the players will be part of that,” Marsh said.

“We have a role to play and we accept that that’s going to happen.

“We don’t know what the size of the hole is yet, so that needs to be worked through.”