While skeleton staffs continue to operate, clubs have been gutted as part of industry-wide austerity measures, leaving many staffers out of work or on reduced hours. The axe-wielding of Monday continued into Tuesday with sources at Carlton and Essendon confirming further redundancies, the likes of which have occurred around the league in what has been arguably the most devastating chapter in football history.
As occurred at other clubs on Monday, Bombers players picked up gear including weights and footballs from the club’s Tullamarine base on Tuesday, and have been told they will be sent weekly fitness programs during the intermission.
The season has been postponed until at least May 31, although there is no guarantee of a return following that date. Players will be barred from their clubs until a month before the season is confirmed to resume. That month will serve as a lead-up period to whatever the 2020 campaign ends up looking like.
A host of players have returned to their home states in the meantime, while Essendon dasher Conor McKenna is among the Irishmen to have gone back to the Emerald Isle to be closer to their respective families during the crisis.
While the extended break could theoretically allow players like Blues ruckman Matthew Kreuzer – who suffered a serious foot fracture in his side’s loss to Richmond last Thursday – to return with plenty of football still remaining in the season, rehabilitation programs are likely to be compromised by the limited access players will have to club high-performance staff and the challenges associated from living in a locked-down society.
The AFL is meanwhile set to use the industry-wide stoppages and cost-cutting to review list sizes, club academies, state leagues and the talent pathway in what is essentially a forced recalibration for most of the football ecosystem.