K rock Football

VFL season on hold

The 2020 VFL season has been postponed. (Sports Media Image/Marcel Berens)

AS doubt lingers over the 2020 AFL season amid the coronavirus crisis, the Victorian Football League is set to be put on hold.

The VFL decision – expected to be announced on Monday – follows calls by Richmond and Western Bulldogs to suspend their VFL programs.

The VFL season had been scheduled to start on April 3.

Postponing it – or even cancelling it altogether – would have a series of knock-on effects, including helping to pave the way for state league players to join AFL lists as top-up players if required.

As it stands, the elite competition is pushing ahead with plans to start its 198-game home-and-away season on Thursday night behind closed doors.

Richmond and Carlton will play in front of empty stands at the MCG.

That is despite Tigers premiership captain Trent Cotchin on Monday telling SEN the cancellation and postponement of sporting competitions around the world “raises an alarm” for the AFL.

A series of meetings between key stakeholders – including the AFL, clubs, government and health authorities – could clarify the situation on Monday.

The VFL decision comes as a blow to Victoria’s AFL clubs, with all 10 normally fielding reserves or affiliate teams in the 15-team state-based competition.

Players not selected for AFL duty will now have nowhere to maintain match fitness and push their cases for senior selection.

It means that the non-Victorian AFL clubs could enjoy one slight advantage if the elite competition goes ahead.

As it stands, their respective reserves teams will play on as usual, with the WAFL, SANFL and NEAFL all going ahead as planned.

The VFL closure would help AFL clubs reduce the risk of their players being infected with the coronavirus and cut costs.

But it could also threaten the jobs of many people within the football industry and the existence of historic standalone clubs.

Australia’s elite Under-18 competition – the Victorian-based NAB League – could also be put on hold.

© AAP 2020