AFL’s ‘grand’ relocation plan amid COVID-19 fears

By George Vlotis and Chris De Silva

After extricating teams out of Victoria due to the state’s recent COVID-19 spike, the AFL could soon be forced out of New South Wales due to rising virus numbers.

According to veteran AFL columnist Caroline Wilson, the league has a “grand plan” to relocate both the Sydney Swans and GWS Giants out of NSW due to fears that the virus could spread north from Victoria.

Such a move could prove to be a death knell for Sydney’s hopes of hosting the AFL Grand Final after reports that the season finale could be played at ANZ Stadium this season.

“Football is now really concerned about the numbers and what could happen. We’ve seen Gillon McLachlan and his team stay ahead of the curve,” Wilson told Nine’s Footy Classified.

“What the AFL has done is lock down four high-performance centres on the Gold Coast. They’re rolling contracts. You ask people, and they say, they AFL have got them for as long as they need them.

Having moved teams out of Victorian, AFL CEO Gillon McLachlan is trying to stay ahead of COVID-19 (AAP)

“That might be September, it might even be October, we don’t know where this season is going to finish up.

“But NSW has become a real concern. The grand plan now is to relocate both Sydney and the greater Western Sydney out of NSW potentially to the Gold Coast.”

Wilson also revealed that the AFL has told clubs like Richmond and Essendon, who travelled with smaller parties interstate initially, to send up reinforcements, with Victorian clubs possibly having to extend their stay interstate.

“There are also teams like Richmond, who took the AFL’s advice and travelled with smaller parties, who have now been told that the AFL will set up special quarantine on the Gold Coast not only for families, but staff and umpires and extra players,” she said.

“They’re going to have to way at least six weeks and possibly longer. So much is contingent on the Queensland Government and their medical authorities. The AFL aren’t going to do anything until they’ve got them onside.

“It also makes the Grand Final question more interesting too, because, what if it can’t be in NSW? What if it has to be moved further north?”

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