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Wednesday, 12 August 2020

Australia's A-league to resume in July: FFA

Reuters , Thursday 28 May 2020
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Australia's A-League, which was suspended in March because of the coronavirus outbreak, will resume in mid-July providing an agreement can be reached with broadcasters, Football Federation Australia said on Thursday.

The plan for the completion of the last six rounds of the regular season and the championship playoffs follows the easing of social restrictions in Australia with the country having been largely successful in containing COVID-19.

"We are committed to delivering the completion of the A-League 2019-20 season and have agreed a comprehensive plan with the clubs and the (players' union)," FFA chief executive James Johnson said in a statement.

"Ideally mid-June will see players return to training, allowing them to reach the required elite level of fitness for competitive matches to commence by mid-July, and for the A-League Finals Series to be completed by mid-August."

Australia's other major football codes have already announced their resumption, with rugby league recommencing later on Thursday, Australian Rules on June 11 and rugby union on July 3.

Local media has reported that agreement with broadcaster Fox Sports was the main sticking point in announcing a resumption of the A-League.

"We are now looking forward to the agreement of our broadcast partner to our fixture proposal and timings," Johnson added.

"That's the final piece of the jigsaw and once we have it in place we can move forward quickly."

Johnson declined to guarantee all 11 teams would survive the shutdown when the league was suspended on March 24 and the cash-strapped league can ill-afford to get back underway without television revenue.

With some inter-state travel restrictions still in place, the league, which includes New Zealand's Wellington Phoenix, will resume in a "hub" format with teams grouped together and playing at selected stadiums without crowds.

Players and staff will be subject to "stringent health and safety protocols", A-League chief Greg O'Rourke said.

"We have taken the necessary steps ... to agree and implement the appropriate protocols, which include rigorous screening and testing regimes," he added.

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