THE AFL has ordered every listed player to be tested for COVID-19 by Friday before clubs possibly return to full contact training with complete squads next week.
The mandatory coronavirus tests are to be completed as part of the AFL’s return-to-play plan, which is still being finalised.
An official announcement on the season restart will not be made until at least Wednesday as league officials continue negotiations over training protocols with state governments.
In a note sent to all clubs on Tuesday detailing the coronavirus testing requirements, the AFL also told clubs they must reduce football department spending by 40 per cent as part of drastic cost-cutting measures deemed necessary for the competition’s survival.
Football department staff numbers will be capped at 24 and must include a doctor, player welfare official and psychologist.
As part of strict return-to-play rules, players have been banned from featuring in their regular affiliated second-tier competitions.
Clubs have also been warned against further breaches of coronavirus protocols after Adelaide’s training error last week.
The updates come with the AFL still locked in talks with state governments over training allowances in the build-up to a possible season restart next month.
All 10 Victorian clubs have been handed exemptions by their state government to train at full capacity from Wednesday, providing they operate in exclusive facilities away from the general public.
The four AFL clubs in NSW and Queensland appear likely to receive similar exemptions, in line with those given to their NRL counterparts.
But in South Australia and Western Australia, there are no exemptions yet for professional teams, with West Coast, Fremantle, Adelaide and Port Adelaide players currently only permitted to train in groups of 10, without contact.
The AFL is still hopeful the SA and WA governments will grant those clubs special permission to train or fly in and out of their bases for matches without serving mandatory quarantine periods upon re-entry.
If not, the clubs could be required to temporarily relocate their operations to help recommence the season.
Melbourne makes logistical sense for a temporary relocation, given more than half the AFL’s clubs are based there, however, Gold Coast also presents as a drawcard with its facilities and warm weather.
Victorian sports minister Martin Pakula on Tuesday gave the green light to interstate clubs using Melbourne as a temporary base.
“We’d be comfortable with Western Australian teams being part of any appropriate quarantine arrangement (in Victoria) if that’s the way they choose to go,” Pakula said.
“I’m still hopeful that Western Australian teams can play in Western Australia and I’m sure that’s what the Eagles and the Dockers would prefer.
“But it’s a matter for (WA Premier) Mark McGowan and the Western Australian government, and ultimately for them and the AFL to come to a conclusion about.”
(C) AAP 2020