PORT Adelaide would prefer relocating to Queensland for the AFL season restart but club president David Koch claims they will be severely disadvantaged no matter where they set up their quarantine hub.
The AFL’s plan to announce the competition’s reboot on Thursday was thrown into chaos when South Australian health officials refused to grant training and travel exemptions for the state’s two teams.
It means Adelaide and Port will have to join West Coast and Fremantle in temporarily moving into quarantine hubs in order for the AFL’s 17-round regular season to resume.
“We’re disappointed with the decision but we have always said we take the advice of medical experts,” Koch said on Seven Network’s Sunrise program.
“It will put us at a severe disadvantage to the big Melbourne clubs and other interstate clubs… but that will make victory even sweeter to get over those hurdles.
“Our preference is Queensland but obviously we will base anywhere we need to be part of the competition.”
In a letter to AFL boss Gillon McLachlan late on Wednesday, South Australia’s COVID-19 transition committee knocked back an AFL request for players to bypass a 14-day quarantine period when flying in and out of the state.
It was signed by SA chief health officer Professor Nicola Spurrier and SA Police commissioner Grant Stevens.
“We really agonised over this, this is not something that we do lightly because I absolutely understand how people enjoy football,” Spurrier told Triple M.
“My job is to protect the health of South Australians. I’m really sorry to be disappointing the fans.”
SA’s restrictions only allow for non-contact training in groups of 10 until at least June 8 – just three days before the proposed season restart of June 11.
With AFL players currently restricted to training in pairs due to varying rules across the states, the two SA clubs will have to relocate to allow all 18 clubs to quickly progress to full training.
Victorian clubs have a state government exemption while NSW and Queensland teams are certain to receive allowances in line with those granted to their NRL counterparts.
West Coast and Fremantle are considering temporarily relocating to the Gold Coast as the government of Western Australia is not prepared to grant quarantine exemptions.
A move to South East Queensland would allow the WA clubs to stay in a warmer climate while also negating a potential home advantage that Victorian clubs would have if they moved to Melbourne.
“If that’s what we need to do, I’m more than happy to do it,” Fremantle skipper Nat Fyfe told Nine Network.
Meanwhile, North Melbourne and Hawthorn’s hopes of hosting games in Tasmania this year appear to be fading after premier Peter Gutwein made it clear the state would not be able to “accommodate” AFL football under its current border restrictions.
(C) AAP 2020