Fans face being locked out of grounds for at least six months as Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced strict new restrictions to combat the growing coronavirus crisis.
Addressing the media on Wednesday, Mr Morrison declared all non-essential indoor gatherings of 100 people or more will be banned in Australia.
Mr Morrison said it was now up to the NRL and AFL to decide whether comeptition would go ahead under the broad restrictions, which would need to be in place for “at least six months”.
“As I said on the weekend, we are looking at a situation of at least six months for how we deal with this, it could be much longer than that, it could be shorter, that’s unlikely given the way we are seeing events unfold,” he said.
PM introduces new regulations
“Whether it is the AFL, the NRL or any others, that’s a decision for them to make in accordance to rules that have been established.
“No gatherings of more than 500. No internal gatherings of 100 or more – and there will be others. So they need to make their own decisions with how to manage that.
“Thw CEOs of the AFL and the NRL can make the decisions on what is best for their game.
“But they must comply, obviously, with all of the health rules and guidelines being established.”
Outdoor gatherings of 500 people or more were banned on the weekend as the federal government tries to curb the spread of the disease.
The Prime Minister’s comments would appear to mean that NRL and AFL crowd lockouts will remain the norm while the new 100-plus ban on indoor gatherings could throw leagues clubs, pubs and sporting venues into disarray.
The NRL and AFL were forced to respond to Morrison’s comments last Friday when he foreshadowed indefinite restrictions on non-essential gatherings of 500 or more people.
Both leagues announced that all matches for the forseeable future would be played in empty stadiums. Indeed, this week’s AFL opener between Richmond and Carlton will be forced to lock out up to 100,000 fans for the annual MCG blockbuster.
While Australia’s top football codes remain open, administrators have been met with an array of challenges and the situation changes on an hour-by-hour basis.
The NRL is considering a range of options after a bio-security expert recommended players and teams self-isolate as much as possible, while the Warriors are in limbo as they face the prospect of remaining on Australian soil indefinitely.
A tiny town in Queensland has emerged as a potential saviour for the NRL should further restrictions limit player movement.
The central Queensland town of Calliope, has made a pitch to the NRL to host all 16 clubs, should they decide to move the competition north. And the NRL is seriosuly considering it.
The AFL is poised to make a call on whether to play or delay Round 1 by the end of Wednesday. AFL Players’ Association chief executive Paul Marsh said the union was urging the AFL to reconsider its decision to reduce the season to 17 weeks, down from 22.
Sensing a part of the players’ motivation behind the push was to ensure they don’t lose out on 20 per cent of their salaries, Bulldogs legend Bob Murphy said it was a concerning sign.
“I’m staggered by that. Staggered. It’s completely out of step with the way the rest of the world is trending,” Murphy told SEN’s Bob and Andy.
Meanwhile Collingwood president Eddie McGuire has revealed he recently underwent coronavirus testing and received a negative reading.
McGuire revealed on Wednesday morning that he’d been tested last week as a precaution after being exposed to many people across his footy and media roles.
This content was originally published here.