Hubs still a last-resort option: AFL

·3-min read

Hubs remain a last-resort option to keep the AFL season going as optimistic league officials push ahead with plans to stage all round 16 matches as scheduled this week.

But several fixtures are in some doubt, with Saturday night's Fremantle-Carlton clash at Optus Stadium the most vulnerable.

The Perth and Peel regions were plunged into a snap four-day lockdown on Monday night after a third COVID-19 case was detected in Western Australia.

The Dockers' home game may go ahead without a crowd or be moved to Victoria, with Geelong's GMHBA Stadium free on Saturday, while the MCG and Marvel Stadium are already in use.

Ticket sales to that match were halted earlier on Monday.

Brisbane will attempt to ensure they can enter South Australia on a fly-in, fly-out basis for Saturday's clash with Adelaide by travelling to Victoria on Wednesday.

The Lions will likely be allowed to play in Adelaide under similar protocols to those faced by Geelong and Collingwood earlier this month.

Gold Coast are hopeful they will be allowed to host Richmond at Metricon Stadium on Thursday night despite concerns over two new COVID-19 cases in Queensland.

Meanwhile, the AFL is still waiting on a Victorian government call on whether crowds of up to 85 per cent capacity will be allowed in Melbourne and Geelong this week.

The capacity is likely to be lifted from the 25,000 that were allowed at MCG and Marvel Stadium matches last weekend.

Sydney and GWS moved their football operations to Melbourne last week and appear set for an extended stay, given the COVID-19 crisis in New South Wales.

The Swans are scheduled to take on West Coast at Geelong's GMHBA Stadium on Sunday and the Eagles could be forced to stay in Victoria beyond that.

A hub set-up for all clubs in Victoria is a possibility at some point.

"I don't think anything's out of the question with the way things are at the moment," West Coast coach Adam Simpson said on AFL 360 on Monday night.

"It feels like we've been lucky this year ... one state opens, another closes.

"Anything's possible and we've got this far through the season, I think whatever we need to do, we'll do ... if it ends up being an 18-team hub, then so be it."

West Coast suffered a financial hit worth about $1 million when the WA government made a last-minute call to ban crowds at their home game against the Western Bulldogs on Sunday.

The Bulldogs got out of WA late on Sunday night, just before Victoria's deadline for declaring the Perth metropolitan area an orange zone.

At the start of June, AFL chief executive Gillon McLachlan told players that hubs would be a last resort, and that they would last a maximum of three weeks if they did eventuate.

McLachlan's stance had not changed on Monday.

"That's for something down the track," McLachlan said.

"I feel confident we'll get the games away this week and we'll keep monitoring what's going on.

"We know we can do hubs, frenzies, all of those different things, but at the moment I don't think that's where we're at.

"We are working with a changing environment and we've been doing that, frankly, for pretty much an entire AFLW season, and a men's season."

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