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A-League season put on ice

Soccer

The A-League has become the final Australian sporting domino to fall due to the coronavirus pandemic, with the competition postponed immediately.

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With the AFL and NRL having earlier announced postponed starts to their season, FFA chief executive James Johnson made the call on Tuesday, less than 24 hours after Newcastle defeated Melbourne City 2-1 at McDonald Jones Stadium.

Johnson said the remainder of this year’s season has been postponed after consultation with the national working committee for coronavirus, effectively halting the game at all levels in Australia.

With only a few rounds remaining before the finals, the postponement decision will be reviewed on April 22.

Johnson said increased protocols placed upon society such as states closing their borders to control the COVID-19 outbreak had made it untenable to continue the competition for now.

“As a national competition played in all parts of Australia, as well as New Zealand, mission complicated became mission impossible,” he said.

Johnson said he “remained optimistic” the season may yet resume and be concluded but admitted it was “heartbreaking” for players and clubs for the league to be postponed so close to the end of the season.

With all domestic and international football across the country now suspended, Johnson admitted the financial impacts will be drastic.

“We will feel this. We will feel the financial pressure on the game at all levels,” he said.

“The game will survive … will we need to make changes? Be different? I say yes.”

It comes as rugby league great Phil Gould warned all 16 clubs won’t survive the suspended season, while NRL boss Todd Greenberg has flagged a potential bail out with richer clubs to support the vulnerable franchises.

All 16 clubs have woken to a new reality on Tuesday, with no football in the foreseeable future and a significant hit to their bottom line.

Several clubs have already been forced to stand down staff or place them on annual leave, with no-one safe as the clubs search for ways to save money.

The impact of the coronavirus on clubs who have previously walked the financial tightrope in the past could be dire.

And Gould, who most recently filled a role as general manager at Penrith, admitted he feared for several clubs’ futures.

“I can’t see every club surviving,” Gould told Nine’s 100% Footy.

“If this competition doesn’t get back on the field this year, and there is no broadcast income coming into the game, I don’t know how clubs are going to survive.”

-with AAP

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