- 27 games in 28 days to complete regular season
- Talks ongoing with broadcaster Fox Sports
The A-League has become the final football code in Australia to confirm its return-to-play plans with 16 July targeted for the resumption of the 2019-20 season, although there is still no deal in place over broadcast rights.
Football Federation Australia announced its intention to plough on regardless of a deal being struck with Fox Sports after players underwent Covid-19 tests on Monday with a view to returning to training on Wednesday.
The season will restart with Melbourne Victory taking on Western United at AAMI Park on Thursday 16 July, kicking off a 28-day period in which 27 games will be played to complete the regular season before the finals series takes place.
Further fixture details are yet to be confirmed, however, as FFA waits to hear of further relaxations of state border restrictions in the coming weeks.
“We have developed multiple draw options for the completion of the regular season,” Football Federation Australia’s head of leagues Greg O’Rourke said on Tuesday.
“All options commence with Victory taking on Western United at AAMI Park followed by a game between the table-topping Sydney FC against third-placed Wellington Phoenix at Netstrata Jubilee Stadium the following day.
“The reason for having multiple draw options – which our clubs are across – is due to the fact that over the next few weeks there may be additional relaxations in border restrictions and travel movements in Australia, which may enable our clubs from Victoria, Queensland and South Australia to remain and play in their home cities, rather than relocating to New South Wales to complete the season.”
FFA said it was still in talks with Fox Sports over a revised deal to cover the remainder of the delayed season.
“With key milestones being met, FFA will continue to work collaboratively with the competition’s long-term partner and host broadcaster, Fox Sports, regarding the broadcast arrangements to complete the season,” an FFA statement said.
With federal government restrictions on mass gathering easing and new rules for crowds in stadiums coming into effect on 1 July, O’Rourke said there was a good chance the season could be completed with fans in the stands.
“Last Friday our prime minister, Scott Morrison, announced that stadiums with capacities of 40,000 people or fewer could be permitted to host up to 10,000 people,” he said.
“We will continue to work closely with the federal and state governments, as well as our venues, to consider how we can accommodate as many club members and fans as possible at matches when the competition resumes.
“With our finals series still the best part of two months away, we are keen to keep our options and thinking open regarding how and where that may be held.
“Leading our decision-making in August be how we may be able to maximise the experience for members, fans, and commercial and broadcast partners, and rewarding the club that wins the right to host the grand final, subject to travel restrictions at the time.”