AAP AFL

AFL to support country, local leagues

By AAP Newswire

AFL chief executive Gillon McLachlan has vowed to support country and community football leagues get through the financial crisis caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

The majority of lower-level football competitions around Australia are facing uncertain futures as revenue streams dry up, with amateur clubs and leagues more vulnerable than ever before.

At state level, VFL club Northern Blues closed its doors after 138 years last month when it was cut loose by AFL affiliate Carlton as a cost-cutting measure, and multiple SANFL clubs have resorted to launching community fundraising initiatives.

"So many businesses are in uncharted waters and in our little world of football, the elite and the community are equally important," McLachlan told 3AW on Friday morning.

"We've got to make sure we work with them to get through this.

"There's great uncertainty for everyone at the moment and we're three or four weeks into this.

"We're working with the peak bodies in each state, who will then work down through all of those (lower leagues), but it's not going to be easy."

Government officials have repeatedly spoken of the potential for a six-month lockdown, which would put the 2020 AFL season in serious jeopardy.

But McLachlan remains optimistic the top-level competition's shutdown period - currently in place until at least May 31 - could be lifted soon enough to ensure a 17-round season, plus finals, is played.

McLachlan said the league would continue to be guided by the Government.

"Our priority is the safety of our community and we'll do our bit to make sure we all stay safe. That's priority one, two and three," McLachlan said.

"Football is so important to so many people and we need to make sure we come out the other side.

"If we can play, we will."

McLachlan said no AFL players or members of club football departments had tested positive for COVID-19 to date.

Last month, a Collingwood staff member tested positive.

The staff member had returned from overseas and had not been in contact with anyone at the club.

"To my knowledge that's the only one," McLachlan said.

"There's not been anything positive within any of the football cohorts that our medical officers are monitoring."