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Crows scheduled to play in Adelaide later this month amid confusion

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After a morning of confusion about South Australia’s approach to hosting AFL teams, the league announced that Adelaide would play St Kilda at Adelaide Oval on July 20 – although health authorities are yet to publicly endorse the fixture.

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In a revised fixture announced by the AFL today, Port Adelaide will play its round seven game against Carlton at the Gabba on July 19, with the Crows scheduled to host the Saints – who are spending the intervening time in Queensland – in Adelaide the following day.

All 10 Victorian clubs will leave the state after this weekend’s matches, to accommodate quarantine restrictions elsewhere.

South Australian authorities made it clear today that the state wouldn’t waive its 14-day quarantine restrictions, nor would it lift its borders Victoria – while there was no decision taken today to open to arrivals from NSW and the ACT.

“We are getting close, we continue to monitor the situation interstate but we need some time get this right,” Premier Steven Marshall told media today.

Marshall and Health Minister Stephen Wade sent conflicting signals about the possibility of an AFL “hub” in South Australia this year, raising questions about how the AFL will manage its fixture after round seven.

Wade told SEN radio this morning that it wouldn’t be possible to host AFL clubs in Adelaide for the remainder of the season.

“There won’t be a hub in South Australia this year, and we know that’s very disappointing. Australian rules football is a cherished part of South Australian life but public health has to come first,” he said.

Hours later, the Premier said the state was working with the AFL, but a hub wouldn’t be possible in the next few weeks.

“There’s a lot of talk about what’s happening with this,” he said.

“Can I just reiterate that we are working with the AFL, we want to see this season get underway, we want to see it completed, we want to see the South Australian teams back playing here in South Australia and we look forward to the day when we can have AFL played at Adelaide Oval at that 50 per cent capacity – I think that would be a great day.

“At the moment we are not in a position to do that.

“Our strong border position means we can’t have Victorian teams or the teams from New South Wales coming into Adelaide without doing that 14 days of isolation, so at this stage it’s difficult.

“There’s no possibility of a hub in the next couple of weeks, but we will explore all options for the remainder of the season and we would love to see AFL at the Adelaide Oval.”

However, as Marshall was speaking to the media, the AFL released its revised fixture, leading to more questions about the border restrictions.

“We don’t have any border with Queensland but I go back to this point, we need to have people out of Victoria for 14 days before they could come into South Australia, that is the period of time that the health professionals tell us is most critical.

“We’re working through all of these issues at the moment. As I said, we’re very keen to get AFL played back on the Adelaide Oval as soon as it is safe to do so.”

He was hopeful the venue could hold “up to 25,000” but noted “we do need to get that management plan done”.

“We were very, very pleased with the two [SANFL] double headers that were played on the Adelaide Oval last weekend – that actually goes up very significantly this weekend,” he said.

“We know people are absolutely dying to get back to Adelaide Oval, so we want to facilitate that but we’ve got to do it in a way that is safe.

“So we are working with the stadium management authority, Adelaide Oval and two clubs to make sure we can do that safely.”

Asked whether St Kilda would be able to arrive in SA if its players had been out of Victoria for more than a fortnight but without serving quarantine interstate, Marshall referred the matter to chief public health officer Professor Nicola Spurrier.

“That would be a very nice question to ask Nicola Spurrier, but my understanding is that the incubation period is over 14 days, there would be a protocol that we could perhaps put in place with regards to PCR testing before they came in,” he said.

“I don’t know where St Kilda has been based… this is why I think it is much safer for us to take a look at exactly and precisely what is put forward and then get SA Health to respond to those questions. What I’m saying is we want to get football back to Adelaide Oval, we want to work with the AFL if it is safe to do so. But we can’t do it if it’s going to send us backwards in South Australia [so] we’ll continue to work with the AFL.”

However, Wade was more definitive.

“My understanding of the current arrangements is if St Kilda totally relocate to Queensland for 14 days then they would be free to travel into South Australia,” he said.

“One of the questions that we ask in the pre-approval process is whether or not you’ve been in a safe-zone in the last 14 days. So, I think that would be okay but I certainly refer to Health.”

The Premier said if SA lifts its border restrictions to NSW and the ACT “next week… that would actually open up some additional possibilities for teams that have been based in NSW during that period, so there are a lot of issues to consider”. 

“I feel for the people at the AFL who have got to deal with this issue, it must be the hardest mathematical issue going right now – but we do want to work with them because we do want to see the AFL season completed this year,” Marshall said.

“And of course, Port Adelaide with another flag.”

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