They gave McLachlan an indication of what football departments would look like with different budgets and the extent of potential job losses inside clubs with many expecting development programs and data analysis to be hard hit. AFL club strategy manager David Grossman is understood to also be involved in the decisions around what is viable going forward.
Clubs are hopeful that a reshaped football economy might open up opportunities for coaches and football department personnel in lower leagues outside the AFL environment with another working group that includes senior coaches Alastair Clarkson, Chris Fagan and Luke Beveridge focusing on talent pathways.
The AFL asked clubs to provide them with an indication of head counts in football departments and what might be expected from staff if list sizes remained the same or fell.
There is also discussion occurring within clubs about the effect on player welfare if resources focusing on those issues are reduced significantly.
Club football managers will meet next Tuesday with an update on the likely size of football department caps, talent pathways and the return to play models expected then with the AFL expected to announce their broad return-to-play model next week.
The return-to-play group remains focused on the potential demands on players if the time between games is reduced or clubs travel under the league’s “short-stay-play” model that remains dependent on state government restrictions.
The extent of those restrictions remained uncertain with the AFL not prepared to commit to detailed fixture planning until they became clearer.
That has not stopped clubs jockeying to have games played at their home venues when the season resumes even if crowds were not allowed into games.
Geelong are keen to play matches at GMHBA Stadium while the Western Bulldogs hope they will have games scheduled at Ballarat’s Mars Stadium in 2020 even without crowds. They could suggest a match-up between the Cats and the Bulldogs at the venue with Geelong only one hour from Ballarat.
Meanwhile, Hawthorn president Jeff Kennett is adamant Hawks games should be played in Launceston. He said even if there were no crowds, the sense that AFL football was happening would be a cause for optimism among Tasmanians.
Peter Ryan is a sports reporter with The Age covering AFL, horse racing and other sports.