The AFL season has been thrown into chaos thanks to the surge of coronavirus cases in Victoria, with three games scheduled for this weekend moved amid talk of more changes to come.
Richmond’s match against West Coast, which was slated for Thursday night, will be replaced on the schedule by St Kilda vs Carlton.
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The Tigers and the AFL have been informed that, due to the Victorian outbreak, the Queensland state government is reluctant to allow Victorian teams to enter the state.
Victoria has recorded 75 fresh COVID-19 cases, bringing the state's confirmed total to 2099.
One new case was linked to hotel quarantine, 14 were linked to known outbreaks, 37 were detected through routine testing and 23 were under investigation, Health Minister Jenny Mikakos said on Monday.
Queensland counterpart Steven Miles later confirmed heavy quarantining and isolation measures for Queensland teams competing in national sports leagues.
Any Queensland team who plays against a Melbourne-based team in Queensland will be required to quarantine after the match for two weeks, with the same applying if they have played the game in Melbourne.
Additionally, if a Queensland team plays another team that has been in Melbourne in the 14 days prior to the match, even if that game is played outside of Queensland, that team will be required to quarantine for two weeks upon their return to the sunshine state.
West Coast, who are currently in the league Gold Coast quarantine hub, will now take on the Sydney Swans, who will be permitted to enter Queensland, while Richmond will remain in Victoria and take on Melbourne instead, according.
The outbreak of cases in Victoria, combined with Queensland’s reluctance to allow Victorian AFL teams to enter the state, presents the AFL with a serious fixturing problem when the Eagles, Fremantle Dockers, Adelaide Crows and Port Adelaide are all scheduled to return home from their Queensland hubs.
The Brisbane Lions and Gold Coast Suns could face several weeks of play on the road, if the Queensland state government is reluctant to allow Victorian teams to enter the state.
Should the Queensland government refuse to allow any Victorian team into the state, a much wider revamp of the fixture will be required to schedule all games - with the Brisbane Lions and Gold Coast Suns likely to have to spend time away from home for the season to proceed.
We’re going to very quickly run out of teams to play in Qld hub. Lions and Suns had better rack up wins while they can. Headed for life on the road. @7AFL— Mark Stevens (@Stevo7AFL) June 29, 2020
Fixtures least of Richmond, West Coast worries
As the league frets about the state of the fixture thanks to Victoria’s coronavirus surge, a move away from primetime could be just what the doctor ordered for the Eagles and Tigers.
Two of the most dominant sides over the last three years, both teams have struggled mightily since the disrupted season was resumed.
The Eagles' quarantine hub struggles continued on Saturday when a poor third-quarter display cost them dearly on the way to a 48-point loss to Port Adelaide.
It left West Coast with a 1-3 record and the second-worst percentage in the competition (68.8).
Richmond, with a win and a draw to their name, are faring only marginally better.
Potential fixture change puts Richmond back in the fold to hub in WA at some stage— Mitchell Scott (@MitchellBScott) June 29, 2020
The defending premiers are languishing in 14th spot on the table with a percentage of 87.9.
Richmond's 32-point loss to Hawthorn in round three was followed by a shock 26-point defeat on Saturday to St Kilda, despite the return of Dusty Martin.
With the regular season shortened to 17 rounds, West Coast and Richmond have little room for error from this point, making their upcoming clash a high-stakes affair.