AFL confirms shortened 17-game season due to coronavirus

The AFL has cut its season from 23 rounds to 17 but doubt remains over Thursday night's opening game kicking-off as planned.

All 18 teams will play each other once in the coronavirus-affected program, with the first four rounds of games to run as scheduled before a new draw is created for the rest of the competition.

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A decision on whether Richmond and Carlton's season-opener goes ahead behind closed doors will be delayed until Tuesday, AFL boss Gillon McLachlan announced on Monday.

The finals series could be pushed back into October, or even November, in order to complete the season.

But one roadblock for the AFL is that the men's Twenty20 World Cup cricket tournament is due to start at major grounds across Australia on October 18.

"If it's done by the end of September, fabulous - but if we need more time we'll do that," McLachlan told reporters.

AFL CEO Gillon McLachlan has confirmed the 2020 season will be shortened because of coronavirus. Pic: Getty

"We've got 40 weeks to get a 17-week season away until the end of 2020 ... and we'll use every one of those weekends.

"We have flexibility now with a 17-round season that buys more time."

McLachlan said if one player tested positive for COVID-19 then the AFL will shut down the competition for at least 14 days, possibly longer.

The reduction in the season means that players and officials may be forced to take significant pay cuts.

The Herald Sun reported on Monday that the AFL executive team, led by CEO McLachlan, would be willing to take pay cuts the lessen the financial blow on the game.

It's understood the average wage of the AFL's executive team is $894,000, with the CEO himself understood to earn in excess of $2 million per annum.

Players could also be forced to take a 20 percent cut to their salaries.

It comes after Collingwood confirmed their captain Scott Pendelbury was tested for coronavirus after presenting with cold-like symptoms last week.

Reports emerged on Monday afternoon that the star midfielder was cleared of coronavirus, as reported by SEN’s Sammy Edmund.

However, Collingwood denied those reports and said the club expected Pendlebury’s results to be confirmed on Tuesday.

McLachlan said the AFL needed to respond the coronavirus crisis properly and protect the integrity of the competition.

"This unprecedented community challenge requires an unprecedented response. Football will find a way through," McLachlan told reporters.

"What we do know is we will get a season away. We don't have all the answers at the moment.

"We're in constant contact with the clubs and the AFLPA."

State leagues, including the VFL, SANFL, WAFL and NEAFL, have been postponed until May 31.

Two people from Rugby Australia's sevens program are also awaiting test results after showing symptoms of the virus.

The pair had attended the high-performance centre at rugby's Sydney headquarters in the past week.

Competitions suspended amid coronavirus pandemic

Rugby Australia has suspended all community rugby competitions and training until May but soccer chiefs are pressing ahead with the A-League season at closed stadiums, with the remaining six rounds condensed into a three-to-four-week period.

Wellington Phoenix and Melbourne Victory face an even bigger backlog of fixtures to complete their seasons as both clubs prepare to enter a two-week isolation period.

Third-placed Phoenix will fly to Australia on Tuesday and spend the next 14 days in quarantine, following government health and travel advice.

Wellington will play out the remainder of the season from a Sydney base.

Victory return to Australia from New Zealand on Monday and will also be isolated for the next fortnight.

Neither club will be able to train during the isolation period.

"Those two teams will have more of a challenge," Football Federation Australia's head of leagues Greg O'Rourke told reporters on Monday.

"But for the other nine teams, we're looking to have as many games as we can played with three-day turnarounds and have the season completed much quicker than it normally would have been."

That decision was deemed "a better solution" than suspending the league, he said.

The W-League grand final between Melbourne City and Sydney FC will proceed as scheduled this weekend, but without spectators.

The development came as the NRL committed to playing round two games in empty stadiums.

The Auckland-based Warriors remain in the northern NSW resort town of Kingscliff ahead of their Saturday fixture against Canberra on the Gold Coast.

Beyond that, Warriors coach Stephen Kearney said on Monday he was uncertain if his club would return to New Zealand and a mandatory 14-day isolation period.

NRL chief executive Todd Greenberg said the competition could continue even if the Warriors returned home.

"Of course we want all 16 clubs playing in the competition but that's a step ... we'll only get to that after this weekend," Greenberg told reporters on Monday.