Sport AFL Coronavirus forces AFL to reduce the length of season to 17 rounds, start date TBA

Coronavirus forces AFL to reduce the length of season to 17 rounds, start date TBA

afl grand final Richmond GWS
The AFL grand final is a moneyspinner, but where's the rainy day money? Photo: ABC Photo: ABC
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The AFL has finally unveiled its plans for the 2020 coronavirus-hit season, but will not decide until Tuesday whether to start this week or delay Round 1.

The home-and-away season will lose six rounds, with each club playing each other only once – a move that will have some football purists cheering.

The first four rounds of the shortened season will run as scheduled before more tinkering to make the rest of the year work.

AFL chief Gillon McLachlan said on Monday afternoon that the finals series could be pushed back into October to complete the season.

“If it’s done by the end of September,  fabulous, but if we need more time we’ll do that,” McLachlan said at a media conference.

“We have flexibility now with a 17-round season that buys more time.”

The AFL Players Association will hold briefings with AFL and AFLW players on Monday to gauge their feelings on the evolving situation.

McLachlan said if one player tested positive for COVID-19 then the AFL will suspend the season.

It comes as Collingwood confirmed its captain Scott Pendelbury is being tested for coronavirus after presenting with cold-like symptoms last week.

Results for the star midfielder’s test are expected on Tuesday.

McLachlan said the AFL needed to respond to the coronavirus crisis properly and protect the integrity of the competition.

“This unprecedented community challenge requires an unprecedented response. Football will find a way through,” McLachlan told reporters.

“What we do know is we will get a season away.

“We don’t have all the answers at the moment.

“We’re in constant contact with the clubs and the AFLPA.”

State leagues, including the VFL, SANFL, WAFL and NEAFL, have been postponed until May 31.

-with AAP

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