AFL season suspended in 'most serious threat to the game in 100 years'

Sam Goodwin
Sports Editor

The AFL season has been suspended until the end of May following new coronavirus measures put in place by federal and state governments.

Round one was only given the green light 24 hours before the season opener, but league chief executive Gillon McLachlan announced on Sunday the competition would pause until May 31.

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The AFLW season has been abandoned and no premier will be named after Prime Minister Scott Morrison called on Australians to cancel all non-essential travel within the country.

“Today, after a meeting with the AFL commission, the AFL has moved to immediately suspend the 2020 Toyota AFL premiership season,” McLachlan said at a press conference on Sunday.

“We will conclude the NAB AFL women's season as a result of the continued spread of the COVID- 19 virus.

North Melbourne players run out before their round 1 clash with St Kilda on Sunday. (Photo by Darrian Traynor/Getty Images)

“Today's match in Perth between the West Coast Eagles and Melbourne will be the final match before the AFL season goes into a temporary halt. Games will be suspended until May 31, 2020.

“The decision by various State Governments to close their borders and travel bans and other measures, meant it was time to immediately stop the AFLW and AFL competitions.

“All AFL club training will be suspended while we work with the clubs on the best way to manage players ahead of games being resumed.”

McLachlan said the AFL is still planning on playing the remaining 144 matches of a reduced 2020 season.

“The AFL industry is facing its biggest financial crisis in our history, but our key priority is to do everything possible to keep players, staff and supporters healthy and well through this pandemic,” McLachlan said.

“To say that this is the most serious threat to our game in 100 years is an understatement.

“It is unprecedented in the impact it is having on our game and our wider community.

“And as a community and as a code, we all need to take the unprecedented and required actions to get through this together.”

AFL CEO Gillon McLachlan addresses the media. (Photo by Robert Cianflone/Getty Images)

Scott Morrison pledges to work with footy codes

When asked specifically about the continuation of AFL and NRL seasons the Prime Minister pledged to work with the codes on new health and safety arrangements that might need to be put in place.

Further complicating matters for the league, the premiers of Victoria, South Australia and Western Australia also announced new restrictions on Sunday.

From Tuesday, Victoria will shut down non-essential services while any visitors to SA and WA will be subjected to a 14-day self-isolation period.

Sunday's developments come after it emerged on Saturday that a Collingwood employee had tested positive for COVID-19.

The league had said the season will be shut down for 30 days in the event of a positive test.

with AAP