Australia

AFL shifts several clubs from Victoria as state returns to lockdown

Richmond’s must-win clash with the Brisbane Lions is set to be shifted from the MCG to the Gold Coast, as Victoria enters a snap five-day lockdown.

The AFL season has been thrown into chaos yet again as Victorian health authorities attempt to get the state’s latest COVID-19 outbreak under control.

The Lions arrived in Victoria on Wednesday ahead of Friday night’s scheduled match against the out-of-form reigning premiers, with the game to be Tigers legend Jack Riewoldt’s 300th senior appearance.

But those clubs are expected to now head north and play their match in the same timeslot but on the Gold Coast.

Sydney and GWS flew out of Melbourne on Thursday morning after being told of their latest move late on Wednesday night.

The Western Bulldogs, who are due to play the Suns on the Gold Coast on Saturday, were departing earlier than planned on Thursday.

North Melbourne and Essendon were earlier added to a growing list of clubs shifting to Queensland.

Their match on Sunday has now moved from Docklands to the Gold Coast.

Essendon is on the move to Queensland amid Victoria’s COVID-19 situation.(

AAP: Rob Prezioso

)

The Bombers are scheduled to play GWS in round 19, before a date with the Swans the following week.

Those matches will likely be played in Queensland, especially if the Victorian situation worsens.

The Sydney teams were to play their derby in Ballarat on Saturday but that will now be played in Queensland at either the Gabba or on the Gold Coast.

Both clubs have been based in Victoria since June 22 due to the NSW coronavirus outbreak but will now call Queensland home for the immediate future.

With Melbourne entering a fifth lockdown, any remaining matches scheduled for the Victorian capital this weekend will need to be played without a crowd.

As has been the case in previous lockdowns, the AFL moved swiftly to relocate clubs.

“The decisions we have made this morning regarding the locations of a number of teams have been taken out of an abundance of caution,” the league’s club and broadcasting manager Travis Auld said.

“Our approach remains to take risk out of the season where the opportunity presents.

“We continue to work towards our priority of reuniting the families of both the GWS Giants and Sydney Swans and the decision to relocate both sides to Queensland provides maximum flexibility required to achieve that.”

Kangaroos players and staffers have been told to pack for a three-week stint away from home.

“We need to do what we can to keep the season moving,” Kangaroos chief executive Ben Amarfio said.

AFL meetings were continuing on Thursday to deal with the developing situation.

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AAP


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