The AFL season could resume as soon as June 11 under a return-to-play plan set to be unveiled in the coming days.
The Victorian government is set to provide an update to its coronavirus restrictions on Monday, paving the way for the AFL to finalise and reveal its plan for the rest of the 2020 season.
It could include an immediate move to training in groups of up to 10 players, up from the current limit of two.
A season return in mid-June has long been touted, and reports now claim it could be slightly earlier than expected.
The Herald Sun reports major AFL drawcard Collingwood could kick off the season with a blockbuster Thursday night meeting with Richmond or Melbourne on June 11.
The proposed Demons clash would be played in support of Neale Daniher’s FightMND cause, three days after the clubs’ usual fixture on Melbourne’s Queen’s Birthday public holiday.
Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt on Sunday said the AFL has worked “incredibly well in laying out a pathway”, including consulting with government and health authorities.
“They’ve been working very constructively with the states, as have other sports,” Hunt told Sky Sunday Agenda.
“I think we’ll get the footy back pretty soon.
“I’ll leave the dates to the particular states that are reviewing the plan but they are putting forward careful plans.
“That will give people a measure of joy and hopefully we’ll see a Richmond premiership this year to make it a true recovery.”
South Australian Premier Steven Marshall has offered a glimmer of hope that AFL matches could be played in Adelaide when the season resumes.
Adelaide and Port Adelaide have been preparing to play successions of matches interstate because of SA’s tight border controls and quarantine protocols.
Western Australian clubs Fremantle and West Coast are facing the same situation..
But Marshall is hopeful the SA government will be able to limit the rate of COVID-19 infections and ease restrictions by next month.
“I think they are getting towards the end of their focus on this issue and I think they’ll be giving some clear direction to the AFL really soon,” Marshall told Sky Sunday Agenda.
“It would be great to see the Adelaide Oval up and running again.
“It really depends on when games resume and what the level of community transmissions and new cases are in those other states.
“If it was up and running today, then I think South Australian teams would be playing those first games interstate.
“If it happens later, community transmissions come down, it could be a different model.”