The Australian Football League (AFL) has decided to suspend the 2020 season until at least 31 May after just one round due to the rapid spread of COVID-19. The AFL also announced the end of the AFLW season without declaring a premier.
The decision comes after announcement by state and federal governments to restrict non-essential travel, and states across Australia closing their borders.
A forlorn looking AFL CEO Gillon McLachlan announced the suspension on Sunday afternoon 22 March at half-time in the Hawthorn vs Brisbane match. The following match between West Coast and Melbourne was the last for at least two months.
McLachlan said in the statement that the AFL was facing its biggest financial crisis in its history. “To say this is the most serious threat to our game in 100 years is an understatement. It is unprecedented in its impact.”
The impact was felt immediately and powerfully on Monday when the AFL stood down 80% of staff from 30 March until 31 May due to the shutdown.
The AFL players have also agreed to a 50% pay cut after discussions between the AFL and AFLPA on Monday night. McLachlan and his executive team will also take pay cuts.
Despite the season only lasting one round before this shutdown, McLachlan said “it was the right decision to start the season, and clearly it is now the right decision to stop”.
The plan from the AFL is still to play all remaining 144 games plus finals, but when these games will take place won’t be known for some time. They are prepared to run the season as late as possible.
Giants CEO David Matthews said in a statement that the club supports the decision made by the AFL to postpone the season but also stressed that this is a community issue.
“This is first and foremost a community-wide issue that is impacting everyone, not just the AFL industry,” Matthews said.
“Today’s developments are a reflection of the worsening situation in the community and in response to decisions by federal and state governments.”