K rock Football

AFL forced into fixture switch

Richmond has been strongly tipped to feature in a fourth AFL grand final in five years. (Sports Media Image/Marcel Berens)

THE AFL has switched two games to different states but is pressing ahead with the top-of-the-table clash between Melbourne and the Western Bulldogs on Friday night in Melbourne.

AFL chief Gillon McLachlan says Gold Coast’s clash against Hawthorn, scheduled for Darwin, will now be played in Sydney on Saturday night.

And Richmond’s scheduled home game against Adelaide at the MCG on Sunday will now be played at the Giants’ Stadium, also in Sydney.

The moves come as Victoria prepares for a seven-day lockdown from midnight amid a worsening coronavirus outbreak.

All other games will proceed as scheduled but with no crowds at Victorian venues.

Melbourne’s blockbuster fixture against the Dogs at Marvel Stadium will go ahead despite a Demons player attending a COVID-19 exposure site.

McLachlan said all Melbourne players and staffers have been tested for COVID-19 and were isolating while awaiting results.

“Pending negative test results, players and staff will be cleared in time for tomorrow night’s game,” McLachlan told reporters.

Melbourne said the player at risk would undertake a mandatory 14-day isolation period.

McLachlan said the Gold Coast versus Hawthorn game, and Richmond’s encounter with Adelaide, couldn’t be held at their original venues because of travel restrictions imposed by various state governments.

The start time for Port Adelaide’s fixture against Fremantle on Sunday at Adelaide Oval had also been pushed back 30 minutes.

“All other matches will remain as scheduled,” McLachlan said.

“The changes are in place for this round only and we will continue to monitor the situation in coming days before making any decisions on future rounds.

“It’s disappointing for fans in Victoria to not be able to attend the footy this weekend.

“But the events of the last 24, 48 hours reiterate the reasons why we have put in place the contact-tracing requirements at matches.”

Essendon is already in Perth for Saturday night’s clash with West Coast at Optus Stadium and could remain there for a match against the Tigers in round 12.

Carlton made it out of Melbourne on Wednesday and are currently in Sydney gearing up to face the Swans.

On Wednesday, strict restrictions were imposed on all Victorian-based AFL clubs, with players and staffers recommended to only leave their homes for playing, training and essentials.

All second-tier VFL matches have been postponed this weekend, as has all local football across Victoria.

(C) AAP 2021