Eddie McGuire has warned clubs face a ‘mutiny’ if senior players don’t want to get on board with a radical ‘hub’ plan to restart the 2020 AFL season.
Creating hubs, where teams are separated into three groups and isolated in different states to limit their exposure to COVID-19, is one of the scenarios the league is considering as it plots a way out of the financially-crippling shutdown.
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However McGuire says clubs would face a mutiny if players didn’t all agree to support the controversial plan.
Speaking on Footy Classified on Wednesday night, the Collingwood boss was asked what might happen if senior players said they didn’t want the hubs plan to go ahead.
“I would think that would cause an absolute mutiny in a football club,” McGuire said.
“There’s a lot of players who aren’t getting paid $750,000 that need to eat and there’s a lot of people out there at the moment who would do anything for a job.
“I think that would be really bad — and I don’t think it will get to that because everyone’s trying to work through what’s going to be the best situation.”
McGuire said Collingwood captain Scott Pendlebury has approached him and expressed support for the plan.
Sports Minister supports quarantine hubs
Victoria's Minister for Sport Martin Pakula previously said quarantine hubs are the AFL's best shot at completing the 2020 season without further shutdowns.
“It might well be that, even in an environment where sport is able to recommence, (quarantine hubs) might be the only practical way to have confidence to get through a season without having to stop and start,” Pakula told SEN radio.
“If, for example, a code thought it had enough runway to run for a few weeks and then, if they get a positive (test), to stop again and take a few weeks off then start again then maybe they don't have to go down that road.
“If, on the other hand, they took a view that they wanted to have a high degree of confidence that once they were underway they could get through without having to stop and start then (hubs) might be a practical objective.”
Senior figures in the industry like Port Adelaide chairman David Koch and Essendon chief executive Xavier Campbell have expressed cautious optimism the season could restart in July.
The minister said that he has had preliminary talks with the AFL about the status of their season, but has not discussed timelines for the return to playing.
He said there is no clear signpost for sporting codes to return to the field, with no change to current measures expected while Victoria's state of emergency, that has been extended to May 11, remains in place.
“I think when you start to see some of the current restrictions relax - that will be gradual and small steps at the outset - then there will be an opportunity for sport to talk about whether or not they can recommence in some form or other,” he said.
“And it depends on the form that they're talking about.
“If a code wanted to just go back to everything (they did) before, in the absence of crowds, but everything else - playing in multiple different venues, flying all over the country every week - that's probably a different conversation to one about having some teams quarantined in various locations and keeping movement to a minimum.
“Sport has to first come to the conclusion about how they'd like to reboot and then we can probably have a conversation with them about whether their idea is workable.”