SPORT Plan for pre­miers at end of Oc­to­ber: AFL

Sunday Territorian - - SPORT -

The AFL has set a tar­get of Oc­to­ber 31 to com­plete the 2020 pre­mier­ship sea­son, with league boss Gil­lon McLach­lan in­creas­ingly con­fi­dent long-term hubs won’t be re­quired to achieve that goal.

McLach­lan be­lieves the path­way for stalled sport­ing codes laid out by Prime Min­is­ter Scott Mor­ri­son on Fri­day has made a re­turn to play­ing pos­si­ble as early as late June.

A new pay deal struck with play­ers al­lows the league to play games into De­cem­ber if re­quired, but a

June end to the COVID-19 shut­down could see a pre­mier crowned in Oc­to­ber.

“We have set that as a tar­get,” McLach­lan told Fox Footy. “We think we have the flex­i­bil­ity with venues to go longer.

“But given where we are, if you look ahead cau­tiously at when we might be able to get back to train, then into the sea­son, we think fin­ish­ing within an Oc­to­ber frame­work is pos­si­ble.

“I feel that ev­ery day that goes past I’ve got more confidence that we’re go­ing to have a plan to get back on the field sooner rather than later.”

The league must work with each state on lim­its to gath­er­ings that af­fect the abil­ity of teams to train to­gether and bor­der re­stric­tions be­fore ar­riv­ing at a model for the 17-round sea­son.

“They’re the last two pieces and then we’ll be able to start rolling out things like fix­tures and train­ing dates and sea­son start dates,” McLach­lan said. The re­cent re­lax­ation of rules in West­ern Aus­tralia al­lows groups of up to 10 play­ers to train at West Coast and Fre­man­tle. But cit­ing eq­uity con­cerns, the league has ruled no team can train in groups of 10 un­til all 18 sides are able to.

EMERALD (QR)

Pic­ture: AFL PHO­TOS VIA GETTY IM­AGES

AFL boss Gil­lon McLach­lan

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