Local football postponed
Wednesday, 18th March, 2020
By Emily Ferguson
Late yesterday afternoon the AFL announced that all community football associations would be postponed until May 31 2020.
The media release reiterated that the health and wellbeing of fans, players, umpires, officials, partners, volunteers and communities is the AFL’s number one priority.
The decision followed the announcement on Monday to postpone State League football as well as national and state talent programs until the same date.
The release said: “We are a game, but we are not the main game. The main game is looking after the community and that is the clear priority for everyone at the moment. For football families like all families.”
AFL Broken Hill President, Andrew Schmidt said the decision was a difficult one made by the AFL but AFL Broken Hill’s main priority is the safety, health and wellbeing of the entire local football community.
“We were given a bit of a heads up last night (Monday night) prior to our meeting that the AFL looked like making this announcement and postponing until 31 May, but we were asked not to say or act on that until the AFL were able to put out an official media release,” said Mr Schmidt.
“We had a phone hook-up around lunchtime today (Tuesday) with the other league presidents and basically now what this means is that we’ve already got a couple of options on the table and what we’re going to do is over the next week we’ll talk to the four clubs about these options.
“Our best option is we’re very keen to have a full season, which is fifteen rounds plus finals. We believe that it’s possible to fit that in, we’ll also look at how we structure that.
“Our other option is that we’re obviously looking at a shorter season but I suppose the bottom line is that the board is very keen to have some sort of season in place and that football is played in some way, shape or form this year,” he said.
Mr Schmidt said at the moment hosting trainings was at the discretion of the individual football clubs.
“I’ve emailed the clubs the hygiene guidelines as established by the AFL, some country clubs outside of Broken Hill are opting not to train for the next few weeks, that’s up to them, that’s their decision.
“At this stage we have not received any instructions from the AFL around training so it’s up to the individual clubs, if the AFL were to come out and give some direction we would pass that onto the clubs but we’ve spoken to all four clubs and they’re all fully aware... players are to bring their own water bottles, social distancing, not sharing towels, general hygiene, so at the moment that’s up to each club if they want to conduct training sessions.
“I would think, the 31st of May is ten weeks away so I dare say they’ll probably structure their training, they may decide to have a few weeks off but that’s up to them.
“Like everyone, not only in sport but in business and in life we’re all in the great unknown.
“But I just want to stress that for AFL Broken Hill our main priority is the safety, health and wellbeing of anyone involved in the game - that is number one.
“But we are very keen to have a season in place from 31 May on, so I’ll just reiterate we will put all our options on the table for the clubs, we’ll discuss it with them and get their feedback.
Mr Schmidt said the delay in the season would have a financial impact on not only the four clubs but also on AFL Broken Hill.
“We have to maintain the Jubilee Oval with no income. The development is pretty well on time, but just general maintenance costs to that oval is over $50,000 a year so we’ve got to go through the next probably three months without any income so we’re going to have to look at a few different options,” he said.
“The clubs themselves still have to pay their bills and their main income stream is through their trading on weekends, their memberships and their draws so I dare say that they’re going to have to revisit their budgets and see how they’re going to get through the next few months without any significant income.
“We provide the avenue for people to play the sport, it’s a social outlet but the clubs and the league do need to be financial to survive.
“So I’m sure there’ll be a lot of meetings taking place and we’ll speak to the clubs not only about options for a season from 31 May but also about how they are looking financially.
“It’s a big decision, but it’s been taken by the AFL and this is for every community and country football league in Australia.”