Tasmania and even Ballarat loom as the AFL’s bailout option for games this weekend and in Round 17 as Victoria becomes the home of the competition for the foreseeable future amid an escalating Covid crisis nationwide.
Every team other than Adelaide and Port Adelaide is now in Melbourne, with the location of Fremantle’s clash with Carlton this weekend yet to be locked in.
It could be sent to Tasmania, as could other matches going forward, with GMHBA Stadium in Geelong, Mars Stadium in Ballarat as well as the MCG and Marvel Stadium set to host most games over the next two weeks.
AFL fixturing boss Travis Auld has conceded he “can’t answer” what the immediate future of the competition looks like, with the six teams from Queensland, WA and NSW all set for an extended stay in Melbourne after fleeing their home states.
“I can’t answer the question about what next week or the week after looks like. Our intention is to keep moving teams around as we have to, but to get them home as quickly as we can,” Auld said.
“I think there’s been only three or four rounds that haven’t been impacted by Covid, so, for the team, there’s a lot of work going on,” Auld said.
“But we make the decisions we have to make in order for the season to continue. We’ve seen that.
“We’re fortunate with the support we get from our playing groups and our clubs and respective state governments that we can deal with the circumstances as they arise.
“As it is at the moment, the right place for the majority of our clubs to be is here in Victoria.”
Auld said Ballarat’s Mars Stadium was the only other venue being discussed as an option for future rounds, with next week’s clash between the Giants and Suns a likely candidate to go to the regional centre.
“We’re very fortunate here in Victoria, where we have a number of venues,” he said.
“I know that Mars Stadium is really important for that region, as is GMHBA, so you may see a game in Ballarat.”
“It’s really hard to know what’s ahead. It’s been an uncertain environment for some time,” Auld said
Nat Fyfe makes mask-wearing look cool. Picture: Paul Kane / Getty ImagesSource:Getty Images
The Suns’ Thursday night home clash with Richmond has already been moved from Metricon Stadium to Marvel Stadium.
The AFL is still weighing up the venue and time for Fremantle‘s home clash with Carlton, originally slated for Perth’s Optus Stadium on Saturday night.
That game will either be played in Tasmania on Saturday afternoon or it will go ahead on Saturday night at GMHBA Stadium in Geelong.
The Dockers are determined for the match to be played in Launceston, ensuring the game is in completely neutral territory.
Fremantle is also scheduled to play Hawthorn in Tasmania in round 17.
The AFL is awaiting a South Australian exemption for the Lions to travel into the state for Saturday‘s clash with Adelaide at Adelaide Oval.
If the exemption is granted, Brisbane would face similar conditions to those experienced by Geelong and Collingwood in entering SA last month.
The Lions hope to travel back to Queensland on Sunday, but are prepared to be away for longer.
Sydney and GWS are already based in Melbourne, having flown out last week because of Bondi‘s growing Covid-19 cluster.
The Swans‘ home game against West Coast at the SCG has been shifted to GMHBA Stadium on Sunday, while the Giants will play at the MCG for the second-straight week when they face Melbourne on Saturday.
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