A-League will go ahead despite border debacle, says O'Rourke


The A-League will go ahead with scheduled matches in Melbourne next week if it is unable to get border exemptions for the three clubs stranded in Victoria.

FFA head of leagues Greg O'Rourke said the competition restart on July 16 between Melbourne Victory and Western United will be played at AAMI Park if the league's three Victorian teams can't get out of the state.

Western United's match against Melbourne City on July 20 could also go ahead as scheduled.

O'Rourke says under current government restrictions it would be possible to hold fixtures in Melbourne despite the city being placed into lockdown due to the city's coronavirus outbreak.

The FFA has applied for exemptions with the NSW government for players and staff to travel to the state, but O'Rourke says the plan is to play on if those exemptions aren't granted.

"We will continue to roll the season at this point in time," O'Rourke said.

"Of course, we were due to start a game between two Melbourne clubs.

"If they don't get the exemption and they remain in Melbourne and they're still there for that start, they will play their games

"Under the current regulations of the Victorian government those players are allowed to train and they're also allowed to play."

O'Rourke said the FFA had booked a charter flight on the weekend to leave Melbourne on Tuesday as it became apparent borders may be closed.

He said the plan had to be altered when the FFA received formal notification at 7:35pm on Monday that the players and staff would need to be across the border by midnight that night.

A new flight to Canberra was chartered and players and staff were hastily taken to the airport only for the flight to be cancelled due to fog in the ACT.

O'Rourke said a second attempt to get players and staff out of the state on Tuesday had to be aborted when the ACT's chief medical officer declined their application to travel.

He apologised for the inconvenience caused to players and staff in twice taking them to the airport without successfully leaving the state.

Any further departure plans would only be arranged once an exemption from the NSW government had been formalised.

"We feel optimistic that our exemption will be treated favourably by the NSW government, but I am not about to inform the players to do anything (about) travel plans or whatever until I have a signed document in my hand," O'Rourke said.

If an exemption is granted players and staff from the three clubs would have to provide negative COVID-19 swab samples every two to three days and undertake a 14-day isolation period.

During that period those teams would be unable to play matches, a situation that O'Rourke said was manageable.

The A-League fixture is currently set to end with a grand final on August 23 but O'Rourke said that could be pushed back to August 30 if necessary.

Source AAP