Adelaide and Port Adelaide could be forced to relocate interstate for the resumption of the AFL season, with SA Health ruling out a relaxation of COVID-19 rules for the clubs.
- SA Health says 14-day quarantine rules will still apply to AFL players
- The decision has thrown the AFL’s return-to-play plans into doubt
- The AFL has blocked players from playing in state leagues
On Tuesday SA Health wrote to the AFL in response to its draft return-to-play plan, ruling out any changes to current 14-day quarantine requirements for interstate travel.
It follows a similar decision made last week when the WA Government rejected a home and away AFL season, saying the state’s borders “would not and should not” be compromised to accommodate the league.
The AFL has released some details of its plan to continue the 2020 premiership season which includes having every player tested for COVID-19 before they can start training.
But SA Health informed the league on Tuesday it was not convinced by the available details.
Deputy Chief Public Health Officer Chris Lease wrote in a letter South Australian teams would not be allowed to fly into or return to South Australia without fulfilling a 14-day quarantine period.
Dr Lease said the ruling would be implemented in a bid to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission.
“We do not envisage that it will be feasible to have interstate visiting teams play in South Australia because of SA quarantine requirements, although this is not specifically addressed in the current general proposal.”
Dr Lease’s letter also said he looked forward to continuing to work closely with the AFL to identify how quarantine plans could be satisfied while allowing players to train and play.
However, on Tuesday SA Premier Steven Marshall said the State Government was still “actively” looking at its options, and players could be granted modified quarantine requirements to allow them to play.
“One option being actively pursued at the moment is the [Adelaide] Crows and the [Port Adelaide] Power base themselves in South Australia, then they fly out for their game in another jurisdiction and then fly back,” Premier Marshall told Parliament.
“And then we work out what sort of modified or agreed position [we have] with regards to a form of quarantine when they come back in that would minimise the chance of transmission.”
In a statement on Tuesday evening, the AFL also said it was continuing to “work closely with all the state governments and medical officers to finalise our return-to-play model and protocols”.
AFL players blocked from state leagues
On Tuesday the AFL decided to block any team having players in state leagues, in a move that will prevent Adelaide and Port Adelaide being part of the SANFL this season.
It is a big blow for Port Adelaide’s celebrations of its 150th anniversary, with 2020 marking the first time the Port Adelaide Magpies have not been part of the SANFL competition.
“We need to work around a fixture that has eight teams in it. That will be reliant on when we can get started as to how many rounds we would get away,” SANFL chief executive Jake Parkinson said.
Due to the AFL ruling, listed players cannot play in second-tier leagues during 2020.
Mr Parkinson said that still left eight clubs and a viable season was on the cards.
“Each team playing each other twice, that sees us with a 14-round season which would be really something of great benefit to the people of SA,” he said.
Both Port Adelaide and the Crows have said they expect to be in the SANFL again next season.