'Doesn't look good': Scott Morrison's 'sobering' reality for AFL and NRL

Sam Goodwin
Sports Editor

The federal government’s new measures to combat the spread of coronavirus have served as a ‘sobering’ reality for footy fans.

AFL Players Association boss Paul Marsh admits it is hard to see the season starting on Thursday given the latest restrictions announced by the federal government on Wednesday.

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Prime Minister Scott Morrison revealed a range of new measures, including a ban on all non-essential indoor gatherings of more than 100 people.

The AFL had already locked out fans from round one, which was slated to start on Thursday night with an MCG clash between Richmond and Carlton.

The league is expected to provide an update later on Wednesday.

Scott Morrison speaks to the media during a press conference at Parliament House in Canberra. (AAP Image/Lukas Coch) NO ARCHIVING

A major concern for both the AFL and NRL and their fans will be Morrison’s announcement that the measures will need to be in place for a minimum of six months.

“Whether it is the AFL, the NRL or any others, that’s a decision for them to make in accordance to rules that have been established,” Morrison said in relation to how the leagues will now proceed.

“No gatherings of more than 500. No internal gatherings of 100 or more - and there will be others. So they need to make their own decisions with how to manage that.

“We’ll focus on our responsibilities as prime ministers, Chief Ministers and Premiers. And the CEOs of the AFL and the NRL can make the decisions on what is best for their game.

“But they must comply, obviously, with all of the health rules and guidelines being established.”

AFL Players boss can’t see season starting Thursday

AFLPA chief executive Marsh, speaking on SEN within minutes of Morrison's statement during a press conference on Wednesday, noted it was important for him and AFL counterpart Gillon McLachlan to debrief.

But Marsh, who on Tuesday expressed hope a 22-game season could still be possible this year, conceded the prospect of round one being staged this week is unlikely.

“I don't want to jump to 'it's off',” Marsh said.

“But it doesn't look good, does it?

“It's all pretty sobering isn't it? It's hard to see (round one starting on Thursday).

“We've been discussing with the AFL. They've been in briefings with the government overnight and it's a discussion we need to have.”

with AAP