cAFL clubs Greater Western Sydney and Sydney will temporarily move players and football staff to Victoria amid concerns over possible border closures because of COVID-19 cases in NSW.
The Giants and Swans, who have been living under tight AFL protocols since Sunday, are heading south on Tuesday night in a bid to ensure they are able to play their respective matches in Round 15.
Sunday’s clash between GWS and Hawthorn has been moved from Giants Stadium to the MCG.
Sydney is due to take on Port Adelaide at Adelaide Oval on Saturday and is hopeful of flying in and out of South Australia on the same day, as Collingwood and Geelong did earlier this month.
— AFL (@AFL) June 22, 2021
The NSW clubs’ temporary relocation comes as the AFL awaits a call on crowd limits at matches in Melbourne this weekend.
The league has lobbied the Victorian state government for a 50 per cent crowd capacity at the MCG and Marvel Stadium, with a decision looming on Wednesday.
Friday night’s Richmond-St Kilda match at the MCG is likely to be the first fixture in Melbourne played in front of spectators since May 23.
The return of crowds at some level will at least mean matches are not moved away from Melbourne for a fourth consecutive week.
The MCG will host Essendon-Melbourne on Saturday night, with Marvel Stadium hosting Collingwood-Fremantle (Saturday) and Carlton-Adelaide (Sunday).
When it comes to quality over quantity, which club's injuries have hit them hardest? 🤨
— AFL (@AFL) June 22, 2021
“The AFL continues to work closely with respective state governments, all AFL clubs and other key stakeholders to best manage the relevant border restrictions currently in place, ensuring the health and safety of the community remains paramount,” the AFL said in a statement.
“The AFL will confirm arrangements for Round 15, including crowds and ticket on-sale times, once those details are finalised.”
The AFL informed GWS and Sydney on Tuesday afternoon they were required to get on the move within hours and send travelling parties to Melbourne.
Earlier on Tuesday, Sydney coach John Longmire said clubs were now used to “unpredictability” when it comes to the fixture, restrictions and temporary relocations this season.
“We got a fairly good go at that last year and this year again,” Longmire said.
“It’s just part and parcel of what sport is and what the community is at the moment.
“You’ve just got to adapt no matter what’s going on and things change pretty quickly.”
Giants defender Phil Davis said players are willing to do what they can to ensure the season continues.
“As players we’re just a small cog in a big machine and if we don’t do that, we’re letting the whole machine go down,” Davis said.
“We’re fundamentally a competition for the fans and if we don’t make the right decisions, everyone suffers – from the fans, junior level, suburban football.
“We’ve got an obligation to do our part to make sure the game rolls on and the money stays in the game.
“Really important we keep the game spinning.”