Football Federation Australia intends to push on and play out the 2019-20 A-League season in New South Wales despite the latest COVID-19 outbreak in Sydney.
The Queensland government declared the Campbelltown and Liverpool areas in south-west Sydney as COVID-19 hotspots in the wake of the outbreak.
The declaration has prompted A-League organisers to prepare a ‘Plan B’ option where all 11 clubs will be located in Queensland to play out the remainder of the season.
Under the plan, from Saturday at the earliest, seven clubs would join Brisbane Roar in Queensland.
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— Football Federation Australia (@FFA) July 14, 2020
The league’s three Victorian clubs, currently in quarantine in NSW after their departure from Melbourne last week, would join them at the end of their isolation period.
FFA head of leagues Greg O’Rourke was hopeful that option won’t have to become reality.
“We’ve been speaking to government today at many levels, many different departments in New South Wales about the current restrictions and what they feel the impact would be at this point in time,” O’Rourke said.
“Knowing that these things can change quite dramatically … our position would be that we would continue to play all our games here and that we would be able to operate as a workplace.
“We would continue to do that until we were advised otherwise.”
Increasing coronavirus numbers in Sydney could force A-League bosses to abandon the NSW hub before a match is played.https://t.co/rmG2r1E1y2
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It means the league will resume as anticipated, with Sydney FC taking on Wellington Phoenix at Netstrata Jubilee Stadium on Friday.
Sunday’s match between Roar and Adelaide United on the Gold Coast is the only fixture to be played outside NSW under the current schedule.
The COVID-19 situation does mean that Perth Glory will finish its season without captain Diego Castro.
The Spanish marquee has opted not to travel to Sydney with his teammates on Thursday, saying the NSW hub is an “unacceptable health risk” for himself and his family.
The 2015-16 Johnny Warren Medal winner is one of several international players who have opted not to play out the season, including Western United’s marquee Panagiotis Kone and Melbourne City winger Markel Susaeta.
A-League organisers have begun to draw up back-up plans to relocate to Queensland if the spread of coronavirus in Sydney makes it staging it in New South Wales too hard. [Ftbl]https://t.co/zRdW2qp9Ye
— A-League Hub (@AleagueHub) July 14, 2020
O’Rourke said players had a right under a revised collective bargaining agreement not to continue with the season if they did not want to and he wasn’t surprised by the withdrawals.
“Players could make their own conscious decision about whether or not they wanted to relocate and join in the hub model,” he said.
“That trigger, if you like, that was in the extended CBA was always there. I’m not surprised at all that a few players have chosen to exercise that.”‘
O’Rourke has already confirmed the finals series will be pushed back by six days.