WA border restrictions present AFL hurdle

Shayne Hope
WA Premier Mark McGowan insists AFL restart will have to work within hard-border restrictions

The AFL will have to work its return-to-play plans around Western Australia's hard border controls as West Coast and Fremantle prepare to restart the season with extended runs of matches away from home.

WA Premier Mark McGowan on Sunday reaffirmed his government's commitment to existing border and quarantine rules as part of the state's bid to maintain a low rate of COVID-19 infection.

McGowan declared the border controls would be "the last thing to come down" as he revealed a staged plan for WA to gradually ease coronavirus restrictions.

It means the Eagles and Dockers are increasingly likely to be required to temporarily relocate to Melbourne in order to restart the season, which could resume as early as June 11.

But there is some hope they could be given a quarantine exemption to fly in and out of their regular bases if the AFL can satisfy the WA government and police that it would be safe to do so.

The AFL will outline its return-to-play plan and club protocols in the coming days.

"I expect the AFL will restart but it's just a matter of how it restarts and what the model is," McGowan said.

"The hard borders will stay in place and the AFL has to work within that.

"They need to understand that. There's no special rule for football."

South Australia also has tight quarantine rules in place that mean Adelaide and Port Adelaide are likely to have to play a string of interstate matches.

But SA Premier Steven Marshall on Sunday offered a glimmer of hope that AFL matches could be played in Adelaide when the season resumes.

"It really depends on when games resume and what the level of community transmissions and new cases are in those other states," Marshall told Sky Sunday Agenda.

"If it was up and running today, then I think South Australian teams would be playing those first games interstate.

"If it happens later (and) community transmissions come down, it could be a different model."

The AFL is reportedly considering restarting its season as early as June 11, however, that plan is dependent on what state government restrictions will be in place at that point.

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews will update his state's coronavirus restrictions on Monday in what looms as a key moment for the AFL.

The AFL Commission is set to finalise plans after Andrews' announcement.

Gold Coast chief executive Mark Evans expects the AFL will deliver the first phase of the revised fixture list and leave room for flexibility later in the season.

"We might get an announcement from the AFL around a start date and a proposed way forward, but we might get a month into the season and maybe restrictions have eased even further and we've got other options," Evans told ABC Grandstand on Sunday.

"The prudent way forward is to give people a look at the first half of the season and to hold over (the rest in case) restrictions have eased."

Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt on Sunday said the AFL has worked "incredibly well in laying out a pathway" for its restart, including consulting with government and health authorities.

"I think we'll get the footy back pretty soon," Hunt told Sky Sunday Agenda.

"I'll leave the dates to the particular states that are reviewing the plan but they are putting forward careful plans."