The AFL are set to introduce a raft of changes to combat the coronavirus-shortened season, including 20 per cent pay cuts for players and some might not be paid at all if there’s no footy.
More than 1000 players – AFL and AFLW – were surveyed on whether they wanted to play on during a conference call with the AFL Players’ Association on Monday night.
7NEWS chief AFL reporter Mark Stevens revealed some players are concerned about starting the season this weekend and spreading the virus to vulnerable members of their family.
“The players in some quarters have some fears about their health, in fact the health of say their grand parents so that is no doubt a concern,” Stevens told Talking Footy.
“If there is a delay, May 30 is the start date being put to players tonight, the weekend of May 30.”
If players vote to postpone then there likely won’t be any football for at least six weeks.
Either way Stevens said all staff at clubs are looking at pay cuts.
Stevens also revealed the AFL is considering a 10-team finals series, 16-minute quarters, 50-player lists and said there are no guarantees the grand final will be played at the MCG.
The AFL is aiming to play a 17-round season in 2020 where every team faces each other once, but if a player tests positive the competition will stop for 14 days.
Collingwood captain Scott Pendlebury has been tested for coronavirus and is awaiting results, while Stevens said a medical official at the club has similar flu-like symptoms.
Pendlebury was interacting with every other club captain during a promotional event last Tuesday but didn’t have symptoms until later in the week.
Player manager Paul Connors, who handles some of the biggest names in the game, said the players were bracing for big pay cuts and conceded some might not be paid at all if there is no football this year.
“It’s inevitable that everyone’s going to take a hit,” Connors told Talking Footy.
“But the players, which I’ve been impressed with, have not so much been talking about themselves but talking about the staff at the clubs and the people who are on $80,000 with three kids and a mortgage.
“We’re such a great industry and support so many people and families.
“The players have said they’re willing to play and will do whatever it takes to play, whether that’s shortened games and the byes are out and if we have to extend the season, I don’t think they care less.”
Channel 7 head of sport Lewis Martin said the broadcaster was looking into a variety of options including doubleheaders, midweek fixtures and even playing into November.
“What was unthinkable a fortnight ago is now on the table,” Martin said.
“It seems to change by the hour, there are things we wouldn’t have contemplated yesterday morning which are now on the table.”