AFL and COVID-19 | Family a sticking point as players not happy with AFL hubs

If players are able to train in small or large groups before playing, it would reduce the first stint in hubs from eight weeks to five weeks.

They would still be required to play seven games within that five-week period.

The second hub – which would likely mean all 18 teams head to Victoria – remains a fall-back position, with league sources hopeful interstate travel restrictions will be eased by that stage.

The allowance of players to bring family members into hubs remains a significant stumbling block in negotiations.

“There are definitely elements that are significant issues,” AFLPA boss Paul Marsh told 3AW.

“The no-family part at the moment is a genuine issue.

“Most reasonably minded people would look at it and say how can you expect someone who has got a young baby or a parent that is ill or no family around them – how do you expect that player to be away for 20 of 21 weeks?”

The players’ union are holding on to a glimmer of hope that the hubs themselves may not be required.

“The best case at the moment is we play a normal home-and-away season … that we play like we did it round one … that’s looking unlikely at the moment,” Marsh said.

The proposal that was put to the players’ union last week by the AFL stated that clubs would only be allowed to bring 30-32 players into the hubs.

That has created anxiety within the playing cohort and that was presented to the players’ association by several agents and managers during their phone hook-up on Wednesday.

Most of the players who miss out will be fighting tooth and nail to stay on the list, while several will be out of contract.

But Marsh stressed nothing has been agreed on.


“We certainly haven’t accepted that as a position … it’s an issue no doubt about that,” he said.

“If a development player who is number 40 to 45 on a list, are they going to be better in a hub when they know they have no prospect of playing, or are they better at home training with a smaller group?

“The 30-32 (players in the hubs) is an AFL position and not something we’ve yet agreed to.

“There are solutions there if we are prepared to work through them. If this is not acceptable to the playing group – let’s see if we can find one that is.

“Our track record with the AFL is just that – we’ll try to find a solution to difficult issues.”

The AFL said on Wednesday night that ‘‘no decision’’ had been made about the hub set-up as they continued discussions.

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