The AFL has today outlined the procedures for clubs to organise their own match practice for players not selected in the AFL team.
With AFL players banned from taking part in second-tier leagues such as the NEAFL due to coronavirus restrictions, the AFL has given clubs the green light to organise their own match simulations sessions against opposing clubs under specific guidelines.
From Round Two, clubs will be permitted to arrange match simulation sessions for non-selected players against other clubs in their respective state.
It means the SUNS will have the option to play Brisbane, West Coast, Fremantle and Port Adelaide when the interstate teams relocate to the Gold Coast.
AFL General Manager Football Operations Steve Hocking said these arrangements prioritise the health and wellbeing of players and staff and ensures everyone in the game continues to adhere to the current government guidelines and the advice of the relevant medical authorities.
“This arrangement ensures we continue to support the health, wellbeing and motivation of non-selected players and allows clubs with the ability to provide non-selected players with match practice to ensure they are game-ready if required,” Mr Hocking said.
“It also provides clubs with flexibility to determine individual requirements while maintaining the health protocols in place for our game.”
AFL umpires are not available to officiate these games, and it's believed the teams involved will instead need to allocate staff approved to make contact with players to serve as umpires.
This also means the footballers involved won't be subject to typical tribunal guidelines and can't be suspended, a policy that will rely on good faith between the competing clubs.
The arrangements for Rounds Two – Five for non-selected players will be as follows:
- AFL Clubs submit a match simulation request to the AFL at least one week prior to the scheduled date of the session.
- Where possible, AFL Clubs will schedule their match simulation in line with the Toyota AFL Premiership Season Fixture for Rounds Two – Five.
- To minimise risk, Clubs will utilise AFL-approved venues.
- AFL Clubs to mutually determine the construct of the session (i.e. duration, player numbers).
- For the first fixture block, match simulation will only be permitted with others located in their same State.
The AFL ‘Return to Play’ protocols will apply at all times and each session will be approved by the AFL and closed to the public.