Collingwood chief executive Mark Anderson remains confident a “meaningful” AFL season will be completed despite tight restrictions in Victoria being extended by another month.
Premier Daniel Andrews on Sunday quashed talk of the AFL following the lead of the NRL and restarting its competition any time soon by announcing the state of emergency in Victoria will be extended until at least May 11.
The NRL has announced plans to resume playing on May 28.
But with 10 of the 18 AFL clubs based in Victoria, lengthened restrictions and border lockdowns affecting interstate clubs means they are unlikely to follow suit.
Mr Andrews said while the decision was ultimately for the AFL, he feared that a restart could still be some time away.
“Everyone wants to get our state back to something approaching normal and footy is a really big and important part of the way our state functions,” Mr Andrews said.
“I do fear, though, that we have many weeks and months to go with quite extraordinary measures.”
Rather than be distracted by the discussions around NRL, Anderson said the AFL was taking a collaborative “industry-wide” approach to agree on what was best for their game.
“I haven’t focused too much on what NRL are doing … we’ve been very focused on what we are doing and the discussions and collaboration going on between AFL clubs has been brilliant,” Anderson told ABC Grandstand.
“Our people come first and we want to make sure that the environment and conditions are right to get going again.
“At the moment we don’t know when that is.”
He said the optimal plan was still to play the remaining 144 games plus finals but that a reduced format would still have value.
“There is confidence that we will get under way and have a meaningful season,” Anderson said.
“What I’ve really liked about the AFL approach is they are taking a flexible approach.
“Speaking from a Collingwood perspective, we’re absolutely open and flexible as to how we best deliver those 144 matches.
“How many matches is still a reasonable and a meaningful season – that’s the key question.
“We are living in the moment, but we are very, very flexible around what structure we might get away and what the competition might look like.”
Anderson said the AFL and clubs still had to work through key details such as the soft salary cap, list sizes, and second-tier competitions.
The AFL’s soft salary cap of $9.4 million per club, which covers football department spending, could be reduced by $3 million next season.
“At the moment there’s a number of questions and not a lot of answers yet,” Anderson said.
“We understand we’re going to take a significant reduction into the football soft cap and every club will face that.”
Anderson said clubs and the league could work through those matters alongside the priority of restarting the competition.
“We’ve moved from the emergency phase and entered the second phase, when you’re getting your eyes up and looking at the competition and getting that away,” Anderson said.
“Once that’s locked in, in parallel you can start to look at all of those (other) questions.”