AFL approves 'WAG hub' as VIC teams move to QLD

·4-min read
Pictured here, Patrick Dangerfield and his wife Mardi.
The AFL is keen on the idea of setting up a hub for WAGs on the Gold Coast. Pic: Getty

The AFL is preparing to shift Victorian-based clubs into Queensland hubs for the remainder of the season.

AFL chief executive Gillon McLachlan says the decision has been taken to provide "greater certainty to all".

"This is a clear plan that makes Queensland the base for our competition and provides greater certainty for everyone," he told reporters.

"Understanding the ongoing situation with COVID-19 in Victoria, Victorian teams will be based out of Queensland for up to 10 weeks as we aim to get the majority of the season complete in that timeframe.

"Victorian teams based in Queensland are fixtured to travel interstate to travel to their game and return back to Queensland."

In addition to Sydney, Perth and Adelaide, fixtures could be played in north Queensland venues such as Cairns, while games in the Northern Territory and Tasmania were also possible, he said.

A fixture beyond the previously announced round eight was yet to be settled.

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk on Wednesday hailed the move for more clubs to be based in her state.

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“It means more Queenslanders here can go and see the games,” Ms Palaszczuk said.

The move comes amid the coronavirus outbreak in Victoria that has already forced teams into quarantine hubs in other states.

The AFL understands the sacrifice from players to move away from their families and is understood to be pushing for quarantine hubs for WAGs on the Gold Coast as well.

Likely to be based in Southport, the WAG hub would be set up for wives and girlfriends to quarantine in for two weeks, before they're allowed to join their loved ones in their own AFL hubs.

Given Victoria's COVID-19 situation and with infection rates in NSW rising, Queensland has emerged as the main base for the AFL to continue its season.

Currently, six Melbourne-based clubs are in Queensland hubs - St Kilda, North Melbourne, Essendon, Western Bulldogs, Richmond and Carlton.

The clubs were shifted from Melbourne early last week amid the Victorian capital's escalating numbers of coronavirus cases.

McLachlan said families and partners would be facilitated in joining the players in Queensland after serving quarantine periods.

Listed players currently not with their clubs would also be able to join, after spending a quarantine period in what McLachlan said would be a "transition" facility.

"This is a challenging period for a lot of families and homes around the country with various restrictions," he said.

"AFL players and their families are not immune to these challenges.

Many partners are family members are already with players in the Queensland hubs but the plan would mean those that did not travel due to work or other commitments, would be able to do so.

Palaszczuk said while she's happy for Queensland to help the AFL continue its season, the health and safety of the public will always be the top priority.

Seen here, Queensland premier Annastacia Palaszczuk.
Annastacia Palaszczuk is pushing for QLD to host the 2020 AFL grand final. Pic: Getty

QLD strengthens case for hosting grand final

However, the premier did take the opportunity to push Queensland's case for hosting the AFL grand final later in the year.

“I stress none of these measures can happen without strict quarantine protocols and the COVID management plan that has allowed the AFL season to proceed,” she said.

“Given the choice between not having a season and having it based in Queensland I think I know what the fans would like to happen.

“As everyone knows, AFL is more than a sport to Victorians. We know how they feel.

“And, as I told Gil (McLachlan), if the season is based here then the grand final should be played here too.

McLachlan has said the AFL would decide a venue for the grand final in August.

The MCG holds a contract to host the showpiece game but given crowd bans, travel restrictions and coronavirus cases, there is a growing likelihood of the grand final being played outside Victoria for the first time.

State governments in Western Australia, NSW and South Australia have also indicated a desire to host the premiership decider.

with AAP

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