Veteran reporter Tony Jones says the AFL’s quarantine hub on the Gold Coast is “out of control”, criticising the number of people that were allowed to cross the border from Victoria.
The Mercure Resort on the Gold Coast in reportedly housing a party of 400 AFL officials, players and family members after teams were forced to relocate from Victoria.
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But according to Jones there are some who shouldn’t be there.
“I don’t agree with some of the people that have gone up there,” he said on Footy Classified on Monday.
“You’re talking about grandparents, babysitters, the girlfriend of a reporter, there’s even suggestions a swimming coach has gone up there for the kids — this is out of control.
“Do you really need babysitters? Do you really need grandparents up there?”
Jones’ criticism comes amid reports AFL CEO Gillon McLachlan has once again been forced to remind the 400-strong party that they’re not on a holiday.
According to the Herald Sun, the behaviour of some at the Mercure Resort has left McLachlan fuming.
The AFL CEO is said to have been angered by people mingling too close together at the pool and bar area of the resort.
“The swimming pool was overflowing, there were WAGs sun-baking all over the place while the bar area was becoming far too popular for his liking,” the Herald Sun reports.
“At a meeting with hub leaders - each club has a representative - Gill launched and made it crystal clear the rules he wanted enforced and that he wouldn‘t think twice about sending more people home.
“As part of the deal with the Queensland government the AFL had agreed to social-distancing which clearly wasn’t happening to the chief’s satisfaction.”
The Queensland government has already come under heavy fire for allowing the AFL party into the state.
“It was perverse, rather than bizarre, to witness a legion of 400 Aussie Rules officials and their families fly into the Sunshine State this week and ensconce themselves in the AFL hub on the Gold Coast,” Scott Emerson wrote for the Sydney Morning Herald last week.
“Perverse because it followed a series of heartbreaking medical emergencies south of the Tweed where patients abandoned their attempts to cross the border to use Queensland hospitals.”
Cancer patient Trace Miller, who struggled to gain entry to see her surgeon in Queensland from northern NSW, said she was “disgusted” to hear how the AFL were ushered through.
“That is like saying sports are okay, but the people who are in need of medical help don't have an option at all,” she told Channel Nine.
AFL reeling after strip-club quarantine breach
The fresh controversy comes after Richmond players Sydney Stack and Coleman-Jones were removed from the Tigers’ Queensland hub after leaving in an uber, visiting a strip club and then being involved in a drunken fight last week.
Richmond vice-captain Jack Riewoldt says Stack and Coleman-Jones' COVID-19 protocol breaches were an “expensive” and “damaging” lesson but the test of the AFL club's culture will be how it moves forward.
Riewoldt said he and his teammates had learned of the pair's breaches on Friday morning and were “gutted”, but said the Tigers wouldn't ostracise them.
“We've had two young men make ... a lot of very poor decisions and the easy thing to do is ostracise them from the group and say 'look, that was their choice',” Riewoldt told SEN's Tiger Time.
“But the sign of a good football club and the sign of a good organisation is that we own it.”
Stack and Coleman-Jones were both suspended for 10 matches by the AFL while the Tigers were fined $100,000 for a second breach by members of their club travel bubble.
Their actions also leave the Tigers at risk of losing premiership points or draft picks if the club breaches protocols a third time.
“That's not gonna define us in the back end of the season ... but we've got to learn our lesson from it because we're in a position where we're right on the borderline of going over into the next stage of punishments, which are pretty severe,” Riewoldt said.
“So we're on heightened alert as well, we know that we need to maintain the regulations - as every side does up here.
“For us I say it's a learning lesson but it's one, a very expensive one and two, it's been a pretty damaging one for the brand of the club and we're really disappointed about that.”