AFL calls time, other codes face shutdown

Ed Jackson
The AFL has suspended men's competition until at least May 31, and abandoned the 2020 AFLW campaign

The AFL has been suspended, the AFLW season is over with no premiers and the ability of Australia's other professional football codes to play on through the coronavirus pandemic appears increasingly untenable.

A dramatic Sunday began with the federal government recommending a ban on "non-essential" domestic travel before several states announced they would implement shutdown procedures over the next 48 hours.

In response, AFL chief executive Gillon McLachlan said the 2020 season would be put on hold until at least May 31.

"We will review the situation by the end of April to determine whether a further suspension period would be required," McLachlan said.

"The decision by various state governments to close their borders, travel bans and other measures meant it was time for the AFL to immediately stop the AFLW and AFL competitions."

The remainder of the AFLW season has been abandoned, with no premiers to be named for the 2020 campaign.

McLachlan said the code was facing its greatest financial challenge.

"To say this is the most serious threat to our game in 100 years is an understatement. It is unprecedented in its impact," he said.

The decision came hours after Victoria, NSW, Western Australia and South Australia all announced various shutdown measures to be enforced within the next couple of days.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison had earlier indicated professional sport was unlikely to be affected by his recommendation that people should avoid travel interstate or long-distance - unless for work, essential services or on compassionate grounds.

"I am not going to pre-empt those outcomes but I am sure we can work those issues through on a practical case-by-case basis," he said.

Both the NRL and A-League are holding off on making a decision until they get advice after Sunday night's national cabinet meeting.

"This changes hourly and decisions we make today could change tomorrow," ARL Commission chairman Peter V'landys told Triple M.

"Tonight is a vital meeting for us moving forward."

The league has chartered a plane to take teams around the country, lessening the chance of players and staff being exposed to the virus while travelling.

The A-League had no fixtures on Sunday but scheduled two matches to be played on Monday with Newcastle hosting Melbourne City and Western United taking on Perth.

FFA chief executive James Johnson said a decision on the competition's immediate future would be made on Monday after the national cabinet meeting.

"We were very comfortable to take the initial decision to allow the leagues to continue with additional measures in place and have worked through a number of scenarios to facilitate the completion of the A-League season," Johnson said.

"However, we remain under no illusions as to how fluid this situation is so we will remain agile and responsive to the challenges this pandemic brings."

Perth have agreed to give up a home game and face Western Sydney, Adelaide and Wellington in the space of eight or nine days to complete their fixtures.