Sport Sydney outbreak forces major A-League fixture reshuffle

Sydney outbreak forces major A-League fixture reshuffle

Newcastle’s Dimi Petratos and Melbourne City’s Josh Brillante in A-League action in March. Photo: AAP
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The A-League has been forced into a major fixture reshuffle following the COVID-19 outbreak in Sydney, with almost half of the first 35 games to be rescheduled for a later date.

The northern beaches cluster in Sydney increased to 90 on Tuesday after seven new cases were recorded.

In response to the outbreak, the A-League shuffled its fixture in a way that would allow all the New South Wales-based sides to play each other for the next four weeks.

That will leave sides based outside of NSW free to play each other without having to worry about border restrictions.

Out of the first 35 games of the recently-released A-League fixture, 17 of those now have a ‘To Be Confirmed’ tag and will need to be rescheduled in line with government travel and health advice.

The grand final rematch between Sydney FC and Melbourne City that was planned for December 30 was one of the games that will have to be rescheduled.

The A-League and W-League seasons will have a joint kick-off on Sunday, December 27 – the first time the two competitions have begun on the same date.

Bankwest Stadium will host the Western Sydney-Sydney W-League clash, before the Wanderers take on expansion club MacArthur FC in the A-League opener.

Wellington Phoenix was originally scheduled to open their season against Brisbane Roar on December 29 at Dolphin Stadium in Brisbane.

But with all travellers from NSW forced to spend two weeks in quarantine after entering Queensland, Phoenix will now open its season against Sydney FC on January 2 at its adopted home – WIN Stadium – in Wollongong.

Phoenix is basing itself in Wollongong for the 2020-21 season due to coronavirus travel restrictions.

Brisbane will now host Melbourne City in a W-League/A-League double header on December 29.

Sydney FC beat Melbourne City 1-0 in extra time in a dramatic grand final last season, but fans will have to wait to see the rematch.

“It is unfortunate as it was set to be a remarkable occasion, however we must accept the decision in the best interests of the A-League and Westfield W-League,” Sydney FC chief executive Danny Townsend said.

“NSW has some coronavirus issues right now, however if we can fulfil fixtures both here and around the country by rescheduling, then we must do what we can to achieve this.”

Melbourne Victory, which was quarantining in NSW after arriving back from the Asian Champions League, was granted an exemption by the Victorian government this week, meaning it doesn’t have to spend another two weeks in quarantine when the squad flies back to Melbourne.

Perth Glory is out of quarantine following its ACL campaign, and will kick off the season at home to Adelaide on January 16.

Western Australia’s border with South Australia is currently closed, but WA Premier Mark McGowan has announced it will reopen on Christmas.

A-League Week One

(all times AEDT)

December 27

Western Sydney Wanderers v Macarthur FC at Bankwest Stadium, Parramatta 6.40pm

December 28

Western United v Adelaide United at GMHBA Stadium, Geelong 7.05pm

December 29

Brisbane Roar v Melbourne City at Dolphin Stadium, Redcliffe 7.05pm

December 31

Central Coast Mariners v Newcastle Jets at Central Coast Stadium, Gosford 7.05pm.