State leagues on hold due to coronavirus

Shayne Hope
The start to Richmond's VFL premiership defence will be delayed until at least May 31

The AFL has put all major state leagues and elite talent programs on hold until the end of May as the coronavirus crisis continues to play havoc with Australian sport.

The start of the VFL, SANFL, NEAFL, WAFL and TSL seasons - as well as their associated women's competitions - will all be postponed.

National and state talent programs will also be affected.

"The decision was collectively agreed upon based on the part-time nature of these competitions and the financial implications for the state league clubs and the state leagues," the AFL said in a statement on Monday evening.

"The AFL will continue to explore all fixturing alternatives to ensure matches are played, however acknowledges the situation is fluid and any decision made may change."

The move comes after Victorian AFL clubs Richmond and the Western Bulldogs suspended their VFL programs in recent days.

The closure of part-time competitions will help AFL clubs reduce the risk of players becoming infected with the coronavirus and help cut costs.

But it could also put the jobs of many people within the football industry in jeopardy and threaten the existence of some vulnerable state-league clubs.