THE AFL will cut its season from 23 rounds to 17 as the fallout from the coronavirus continues to cause carnage in Australian sport.
All 18 teams will play each other once, with the first four rounds of games to run as scheduled before a new draw is created for the rest of the campaign.
A decision on whether the season starts as planned at the MCG on Thursday night will be delayed until Tuesday, AFL boss Gillon McLachlan announced on Monday.
The finals series could be pushed back into October in order to complete the season.
“If it’s done by the end of September – fabulous – but if we need more time we’ll do that,” McLachlan told reporters.
“We have flexibility now with a 17-round season that buys more time.”
The AFL Players Association will hold briefings with AFL and AFLW players on Monday to gauge their feelings on the evolving situation.
McLachlan said if one player tested positive for COVID-19 then the AFL will suspend the season.
It comes as Collingwood confirmed their captain Scott Pendelbury is being tested for coronavirus after presenting with cold-like symptoms last week.
Results for the star midfielder’s test are expected back on Tuesday.
McLachlan said the AFL needed to respond to the coronavirus crisis properly and protect the integrity of the competition.
“This unprecedented community challenge requires an unprecedented response. Football will find a way through,” McLachlan told reporters.
“What we do know is we will get a season away. We don’t have all the answers at the moment.
“We’re in constant contact with the clubs and the AFLPA.”
State leagues, including the VFL, SANFL, WAFL and NEAFL, have been postponed until May 31.
© AAP 2020