Today, on behalf of the AFL Commission, the 18 clubs and our wider football community, I want to provide an update on the AFL's plan for managing the 2020 season and the months ahead.
The AFL has been in constant contact with the authorities at both state and federal level over the last week, and I want to pass on our thanks to Governments and health authorities for helping guide us through this unprecedented time.
This is - and will be - a difficult time for the whole of the Australian public.
And we know that the impact of coronavirus will affect some in our community in a much more serious way than for others.
In facing this unprecedented and difficult time, all of our clubs, players, broadcasters and corporate partners are determined and united.
We are determined to be part of the whole of community response to slow this virus down – and in doing so, help the broader community and our health systems to cope.
And we are united across our industry in making hard decisions necessary to protect the health and livelihoods in our football family.
I want to outline the plans we have on the adjustments we are making to the 2020 Toyota AFL Premiership Season and the NAB AFLW Season.
The decisions we have made give us flexibility across the 2020 year, and we will stay closely in touch with Government and health authorities as we face into the next few months.
The state league competitions across the country – VFL, SANFL, NEAFL, WAFL, TSL, men's and women's, and all National and State Talent Programs will delay the start of their seasons until the end of May.
Given the uncertainty of what lies ahead and to give us maximum flexibility while preserving the integrity of the competition, the Toyota AFL Premiership Season will be reduced to 17 rounds; every team will play each other once.
It continues to be a fluid situation; we have not made a final decision on the men's and women's commitment to this weekend, we have meetings with clubs, players and industry partners in the next 24 hours.
We are in constant contact with the clubs, and with the AFLPA, who are hosting a phone conference will all men's and women's players tonight.
We are also working through the idea of supplementary playing lists being available to clubs – players will be able to be selected from any state league across the country – further details to be released in the next week and a time set for a mini-draft.
This unprecedented community challenge requires unprecedented response.
AFL Commission Chairman Richard Goyder will chair a cabinet of club presidents being finalised tomorrow to assist in leading the industry through this uncertain time – a time where we need to protect the footy industry and the people working in it: both in health, safety and livelihoods.
Our AFL team is working closely with the clubs on their finances and to ensure that clubs are able to work their way through this challenge. It will take unprecedented measures across the AFL and clubs, but everyone is united in this approach and understands the task ahead.
I want to reinforce this message to all of our fans and members.
– We know what football means to everyone –
And we understand how difficult these decisions are for you - in particular during a time of uncertainty and anxiety.
Australian Rules Football is resilient. Football has had many challenges and despite the size of this one, football will find a way through.
We are a game but we are not the main game.
The main game is looking after the community and keeping people safe and that is the clear priority for everyone at the moment. For football families like all families.
At the moment we know there is a lot of uncertainty but one thing we know is we will get a season away. The circumstances mean it will look different, but our commitment is for it to be fair.
The reality is, we don't have all answers at the moment.
The situation is changing by the minute and we need to stay agile in our decision making.
But what I do know is football has been around for over 160 years, we have been challenged and tested but footy will find a way… we always do.