A-League set to join Victoria exodus


Melbourne Victory, City and Western United are poised to depart Victoria and leave the state bereft of top-line professional football teams as the border with NSW slams shut.

Monday's announcement that the NSW-Victoria border will close at 11.59pm Tuesday due to Melbourne's worsening COVID-19 outbreak is expected to force the A-League's hand and drive Melbourne's three clubs to relocate to NSW for this month's season restart.

After the government announcement, the A-League clubs were in discussion with the FFA, while Melbourne City were making plans to arrive in NSW before the Tuesday border closure.

Like 10 AFL teams, NRL's Melbourne Storm and Super Rugby's Melbourne Rebels, Victoria's A-League clubs will have no clear idea when they can return home.

Some Victorian AFL clubs travelled to their hubs on Sunday, with the remainder to depart by Monday evening.

Storm have been outside Victoria for almost two weeks - originally relocating to NSW for one game before setting up camp on the Sunshine Coast.

They will play their home games in Brisbane for the foreseeable future.

The Rebels moved to Canberra on June 26 and will play their home games at a range of venues. They are unlikely to return to Victoria any time soon.

Meanwhile Supercars, which has several teams based in Victoria, said it was discussing options for those teams with health and government authorities.

The Victorian A-League clubs had previously been briefed on the possibility of heading into a NSW hub before their return to play and had been preparing to move interstate if necessary.

United are due to play Victory on July 16 and then City on July 20, with the venue for both games initially listed as "TBC", depending on border restrictions.

The Victorian clubs had originally hoped to play those games at AAMI Park before heading into a NSW hub - but that had looked increasingly unlikely in recent days and now appears impossible given Victoria's coronavirus spike.

"If things aren't going well in Victoria, I imagine that we'll be in a hub, most likely in NSW, for probably four-odd weeks," Victory veteran Leigh Broxham told RSN radio on Monday morning.

Broxham and his wife Sam are parents to young triplets and the Victory veteran was uncertain whether he would bring his family into a hub - or if it would even be an option.

Second-placed City have just three regular-season games remaining, while United (sixth, six games to play) and Victory (10th, five games left) face packed schedules.

Source AAP