AFL industry faces lasting damage: McGuire

Shayne Hope
Collingwood's Eddie McGuire has expressed concern for the future of AFL amid the COVID-19 shutdown

Collingwood president Eddie McGuire has warned the AFL industry will "never be the same again" as it enters a shutdown period aimed at minimising the effects of the coronavirus pandemic.

Up to 80 per cent of all AFL staff have reportedly been stood down without pay on Monday, after the season was put on hold until at least May 31.

Clubs are also facing temporary closures across a range of departments, including their football programs, as the AFL dictates a range of measures to reduce costs in the face of the biggest financial crisis in its history.

McGuire is part of the so-called 'coronavirus cabinet' put together by AFL chief executive Gillon McLachlan to steer the league through the crisis.

The Collingwood chief fears the financial hit coming for the league and its clubs will cause lasting damage, with some organisations facing a fight for survival.

"It's like every business in Australia at the moment, working through the cash flow," McGuire told Channel Nine.

"It's going to be hard. It's going to devastate our industry.

"It will never be the same again. But we'll have to rebuild it and we will work through it together side-by-side to make sure we all get through as best as we possibly can."

Fremantle chief executive Simon Garlick and president Dale Alcock have sent a stark warning about what the shutdown could mean, with tough cost-cutting decisions set to be made.

"There is no sugar coating what the potential financial implications of the decision to postpone the AFL season are, and what that means for the future of the Fremantle Dockers," Garlick and Alcock said in a joint statement to club members.

"Our very survival is at stake.

"We could choose to limp through what is expected to be a long and difficult recovery phase and risk stagnating for years, or we can be agile and decisive as we act in the best long-term interests of the club.

"Without question we choose the latter."

Brisbane chief Greg Swann has delivered a similar message to Lions members.

"We will be implementing a series of significant measures that will shore up our finances and we will aim to be as transparent as possible as we move through the process," Swann said.

"There are many people who are impacted by the AFL's decision, not least of which are our loyal and hard-working staff and players.

"Their wellbeing as we work through this is paramount and we will support them through whatever lies ahead."

Clubs have been told they will be given 30 days' notice of the AFL season resuming.

In the meantime, some clubs have allowed players to return to their home states before borders are effectively closed. Port Adelaide players are in isolation in South Australia after returning from their round-one match on the Gold Coast.

North Melbourne skipper Jack Ziebell is among a group of players facing uncertainty over surgery to repair injuries sustained during last week's fixtures.

Ziebell suffered significant damage to his right knee during the Kangaroos' win over St Kilda on Sunday.

Clubs have also been banned from interviewing draft prospects with the shape of future recruiting procedures uncertain.

Recruiters and scouts are among the club staff likely to lose their jobs, at least temporarily, with no elite junior or state-league matches being played.