AFL, NRL facing changes to 2020 seasons

Seven and Foxtel face a reduced AFL season of 17 rounds this year.

League CEO Gillon McLachlan said yesterday five rounds would be scrapped due to the outbreak of coronavirus. The plan is for all teams playing each other once -but that could change. A player testing positive to COVID-19 would result in a 14-day shutdown at a minimum.

Some AFL players were consulted last night on a range of questions around options for a 2020 season. An extraordinary phone hook-up began included a senior medical officer speaking plus AFL Players Association CEO Paul Marsh.

While Seven could fill missing hours from a reduced or cancelled AFL, the loss to ratings and revenue would hurt.

Last night Managing Director Seven Melbourne and Head of Network Sport Lewis Martin told Talking Footy that Seven could cope with the challenges the AFL’s new 17-game season would bring.

Seven is already facing the prospect of no Olympics, should they eventually be cancelled from July.

Sources familiar with the commercial arrangement between the broadcaster and the International Olympic Committee told The Sydney Morning Herald Seven would receive a refund on the money it has paid for the rights to broadcast the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. Seven’s 2014 deal for the Rio De Janeiro, Tokyo, and the winter games in PyeongChang, South Korea was reported to be worth $200 million. Right now a refund would help its bottom line -but deny it a promotional platform for upcoming shows.

Meanwhile NRL chief executive Todd Greenberg  told FOX League’s NRL 360 the league has started exploring ways at continuing this year’s season without the NZ Warriors due to travel restrictions.

“It’s very possible to continue the competition if the Warriors want to go home,” Greenberg said on Monday.

“Of course we want all 16 clubs playing in the competition, but that’s a step that is a scenario and we’ll only get to that after this weekend.”

ARLC chairman Peter V’landys told NRL 360, the game is taking extra steps to protect the players.

“This weekend we’ve chartered plans so we’re flying the players on individual flights rather than commercial flights. We are bringing them back straight after the games so they aren’t staying at hotel,” he said.

“The biggest aspect is hygiene. As long as we can provide the best possible hygiene or the points that they’re more likely to catch it, that we have them covered, we’ll minimise the risk as much as possible but at the end of it it’ll be the player.

“As long as the player is educated and reduces the social activity we’ll be in a good position.”

But he was also questioned on a plea for government support through the economic stimulus package.

“There’s $17 billion put aside for businesses to create economic activity. Rugby league is a business, it’s a very big business. A lot of people rely on rugby league for their livelihoods,” he said.

Source: FOX Sports, AFL, FOX League


  1. With the amount of money that sloshes around in NRL why haven’t they put some aside for a rainy day?
    They should remember that the government has no money of its own, its all taxpayers money or borrowed money.

  2. Virtually every other sporting league around the world has just shut down. I don’t understand what makes the AFL and NRL think they’re so special and should continue operating.

    • Because, at this stage, Australia is relatively unaffected and with borders shutdown will fare better than the countries where those other leagues are located. Europe and North America have a much bigger problem on their hands, and have had to be more extreme.

      Of course, it may change, but the administrators have to make decisions based on the current situation which is still unclear. Remember it is less than two weeks since the first events were suggested to be stopped.

  3. The positive to this situation is there maybe games shown throughout the week on nights which aren’t the norm. That could be a great alternative to other shows which look like they are impacted. That said, I personally believe the AFL should delay the start, looking at whats happening with other sport codes in the EU, US and UK

  4. ” five matches would be scrapped”.
    Actually, that is five rounds would be scrapped. Each round has 9 matches (18 teams all play once each round).

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