AFL confident 2020 return-to-play date will be announced by end of April

He said while states might vary in the level of lockdown and distancing restrictions, there was a level of co-ordination and co-operation between states that was necessary.

He said there was also a tandem piece of work being done on changes for the 2021 and 2022 seasons. He cast doubt on the suggestion of extending the next two seasons to try to recoup money lost from this season, saying there were contracts in place with stadia, broadcasters, players and other key stakeholders that made that suggestion difficult.

McLachlan also said there would be a national draft this year but could not say what format it would take. He cast doubt on changing the draftee age, saying the best 18-year-olds were coming in and having an impact at clubs, and all clubs still wanted access to the best talent.

He said the league had gone through an important period of financial stabilisation over the last month and was now focused on this season and beyond that changes for next year.

When games resume – and it is now clearly a case of when, not if – they will be in empty stadia, probably for the remainder of the year.


AFL football manager Steve Hocking said last week quarters would still be shorter but the bench size was likely to remain the same.

The absence of crowds and the length of quarters gave the AFL flexibility with scheduling the remaining 144 games this year, McLachlan said.

Time did not permit in the press briefing to discuss what the plans or options are for the finals, including the format of those games or where they would be held. Those decisions will also only likely to be clear once a firm return-to-play date is established.

“I am optimistic and as confident as I can be that all 144 games will be played this year,” McLachlan said.

“I am optimistic of a return-to-train date and a resumption-of-play date and we are still confident we can get to that position by the end of April without being completely definitive on that [when the announcement is].”

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