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NT option for AFL hit by more COVID-19 season chaos

Football

The AFL is in talks with the Northern Territory government about hosting multiple fixtures in Darwin and Alice Springs if required to help it complete a 153-game home-and-away season.

 

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The league is maintaining its “flexible and agile” outlook with the competition schedule after it was again thrown into chaos over the weekend.

Conor McKenna’s positive COVID-19 test forced the indefinite postponement of the Essendon-Melbourne match in round three. and there are doubts over the status of the Bombers’ upcoming matches as players await the results of further testing.

The postponed match is the first domino to fall in a possible fixture backlog that will require some matches to be played on the back of short breaks.

Further setbacks could force the season to be extended, with the AFL still adamant no date has been set in stone for the grand final.

The NT was earlier discussed as a possible “hub” option for multiple teams to restart the season.

AFL legal counsel Andrew Dillon on Monday said the league had been involved in “productive discussions” with the NT government about playing a string of matches there later this year.

“Given where Darwin is – and the NT haven’t had a case for a number of months – it might be a thing where a couple of Victorian teams could go up there and play against maybe the two Queensland teams and get a roll of games going there,” Dillon told Triple M on Monday.

“Nothing’s off the table, it’s just about being flexible and agile.

“The season will look different. We want the rounds to look as traditional as possible but we’re just going to have to provide a bit of flexibility as well.”

Under the AFL’s original 2020 fixture, Gold Coast and Melbourne were scheduled to host matches in Darwin and Alice Springs respectively this season as part of deals with the NT government.

-AAP

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