All AFL players will be tested for coronavirus twice a week as the competition resumes on June 11, the league’s chief executive Gillon McLachlan says.
An initial four-week block of fixtures will be released within 10 days.
Four clubs – West Coast, Fremantle, Adelaide and Port Adelaide – will be based in hubs on Queensland’s Gold Coast for the early part of the season resumption.
“Our 2020 AFL premiership season will resume on Thursday June 11,” McLachlan told reporters in Mebourne on Friday.
“Today is a significant step in getting footy back for everyone … we know as this situation continues to evolve we have to be agile and continue to adapt as necessary.
“Importantly we must not place any burden on the public health system.”
The AFL season – already shortened to 17 rounds – was suspended on March 22 because of the coronavirus pandemic after one completed round.
McLachlan said all players and football department staff would be tested for COVID-19 twice every week – one test would be held within 24 hours of a club’s weekly main contact training session.
Players would also be subjected to daily health checks by club doctors.
“We have daily screening by the doctors of every single player on the list,” McLachan said.
“We have bi-weekly testing of every player (with one test) at least 24 hours before the contact session and we will have the results back before they’re allowed to do contact sessions or play games.
“And there are a whole series of other measures.
“All of those will then determine if there is an infection, who has had close contact and what actually plays out after that.”
South Australia is the only state yet to grant approval for its AFL players to resume contact training.
McLachlan said South Australia’s stance meant the Adelaide Crows and Port Adelaide would have to enter their hub on the Gold Coast ahead of May 25.
West Coast and Fremantle have been allowed contact training, but border restrictions mean the Perth clubs can’t fly in and fly out when games resume – the same scenario as in South Australia.
The temporary relocations mean the WA and SA clubs will be at what Port Adelaide chairman David Koch described as a “significant disadvantage”.
The families of players would be permitted to stay at the hubs, McLachlan said.
“It’s an exciting day for our clubs and our supporters,” he said.
“(But) … the return to footy doesn’t mean the work is complete, we must continue to follow the advice of the governments.”
While McLachlan confirmed the new fixture won’t be released until next week, it’s believed league chiefs are aiming for a Collingwood-Richmond opener at the MCG in mid-June.
The NRL, aiming for a May 28 restart, will release its revamped fixture on Friday.
McLachlan earlier confirmed that players will resume modified training on Monday before stepping up into full contact drills on May 25
“Every club will be training out of its home base in their home states for a week,” he told 3AW.
“We’ll be able to go to contact training twice a week after (COVID-19) testing from the 25th of May.
“It will be training for a few weeks, enough to make sure the players, clubs and coaches have the right body of work to play matches without significant risk of injury.
“Some games flying in and out, some in villages so we will have to be agile and flexible.
“The fixture is going to be determined by the model we landed in with a combination of fly-in, fly-out and hubs.”
The AFL has today announced that clubs will return to training on Monday, May 18 and the 2020 Toyota AFL Premiership season will resume on Thursday, June 11. https://t.co/UBvTIbt8dV
— AFL House (@AFL_House) May 15, 2020
West Coast captain Luke Shuey said his club was prepared to do what they had to for the sake of the competition.
“We realise we’re going to have to travel at some stage and be away for a certain amount of time,” Shuey told Fox Footy.
“Fortunately for us we’re used to travelling, albeit not for up to four or five or six weeks.”