Monday, April 12, 2021

A-League still aims to play NSW matches despite Western Sydney coronavirus outbreak

A-League still aims to play NSW matches despite Western Sydney coronavirus outbreak

Football Federation Australia (FFA) intends to play A-League matches in New South Wales as it looks to complete its 2019/20 season, despite the latest COVID-19 spike in Sydney.

The Queensland Government has declared the Campbelltown and Liverpool areas in south-west Sydney COVID-19 hotspots in the wake of outbreaks there.

The declaration has prompted A-League organisers to prepare a ‘Plan B’ option in which all 11 clubs will be located in Queensland to play out the remainder of the season.

Under the plan, from Saturday at the earliest, seven clubs would join Brisbane Roar in Queensland.

The A-League’s three Victorian clubs, currently in quarantine in New South Wales after their departure from Melbourne last week, would join them at the end of their isolation period.

The NRL has also considered moving all its clubs to Queensland following the COVID-19 outbreak in south-west Sydney, although it remains hopeful this will not be necessary.

FFA head of leagues Greg O’Rourke said he wanted to avoid basing all teams in Queensland but it was important it remained an option.

“We’ve been speaking to government today at many levels, many different departments in New South Wales, about the current restrictions and what they feel the impact would be at this point in time,” he said.

“Knowing that these things can change quite dramatically … our position would be that we would continue to play all our games here and that we would be able to operate as a workplace.

The A-League will resume on Friday with Sydney FC taking on Wellington Phoenix at Kogarah’s Jubilee Stadium.

Sunday’s match between the Roar and Adelaide United on the Gold Coast is the only fixture to be played outside New South Wales under the current schedule.

The COVID-19 situation does mean Perth Glory will finish their season without captain Diego Castro.

The Spanish marquee has opted not to travel to Sydney with his teammates on Thursday, saying the New South Wales hub is an “unacceptable health risk” for him and his family.

Diego Castro will sit out the remainder of the A-League season.(AAP: Gary Day)

The 2015/16 Johnny Warren medallist is one of several international players who have opted not to play out the season.

O’Rourke said players had a right under a revised collective bargaining agreement (CBA) not to continue with the season if they did not want to and he was not surprised by the withdrawals.

“Players could make their own conscious decision about whether or not they wanted to relocate and join in the hub model,” he said.

“That trigger, if you like, that was in the extended CBA was always there. I’m not surprised at all that a few players have chosen to exercise that.”

O’Rourke has already confirmed the finals series will be pushed back by six days, meaning this year’s grand final is set to be held on August 29.


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