ARLC chairman Peter V’landys told Nine News on Sunday night he believes teams are still able to play while complying with new restrictions from health authorities closing all pubs, clubs, cinemas and other entertainment venues and enforcing tighter measures on non-essential travel. The organisation is even considering relocating the competition to Central Queensland where 500 players and coaching staff could be housed in a purpose-built village.
Yesterday the AFL announced it was suspending the season until the end of April, with chief executive Gillon McLachlan calling the “unprecedented” move the “biggest financial crisis” the game has ever faced.
However, V’landys said the codes can’t be compared with the NRL having teams in fewer states meaning less travel for players and staff. The NRL is reportedly facing losses of up to $500 million if the season doesn’t go ahead.
“Our number one priority is to protect our players, staff and fans and we will continue to do this by adopting the strictest possible medical protocols,” NRL CEO Todd Greenberg said.
“However, we understand the pace of the crisis is escalating rapidly and we need to remain flexible and conscious of community expectations.”
Reactions from the public have been mixed with former Olympic basket baller Mark Worthington labelling the decision “short-sighted”, “selfish” and “arrogant”. Comedian Dave Hughes also had some harsh words to say on the topic.
“So the same @ScottMorrisonMP led team who just yelled at people for going to Bondi Beach, as they are endangering us all by not social distancing, are still happy for @NRL guys to fly around the nation wrestling each other while they possibly catch and spread Coronavirus?” he tweeted.
But former players Brad Fittler and Braith Anasta have backed the call.
“Our leadership has been stoic and brilliant from day one. I respect our leadership and I am comfortable with them making this decision,” Anasta said on Fox League.