‘I wouldn’t have stepped on a plane’ - Verbeek supports A-League shutdown


The A-League is set to join Australia’s other codes in shutting up shop in response to the coronavirus scourge, with state border closures and onerous quarantine measures rendering the competition untenable.

Football Federation Australia has flagged an official announcement on Tuesday morning, with a cessation of play the anticipated verdict.

It’s unknown whether it will be a temporary halt - possibly until the end of April - or an abandonment for the rest of the season.

But the fact Western Sydney Wanderers have ordered their administrative staff to take annual leave, whilst players have been informed that Tuesday’s training session is likely to be their last for the time being, points towards a longer-term lockdown.

The A-League clubs have been frantically scrambling to play out the rest of the regular season in a truncated format in NSW, but with the AFL and the NRL both on hold, it was the last man standing.

With almost every league in the world now suspended, other then notable exceptions like Belarus, Adelaide United’s Dutch coach Gertjan Verbeek backed the looming blackout.

“It probably should have happened two weeks ago - the other sports have all stopped and I can’t imagine we’ll play football this weekend,” he said.

“It’s strange to see Newcastle Jets playing Melbourne City tonight but I think it will be the last game (for the foreseeable future).

“How is the rest of the world looking at the A-League at the moment when almost everywhere else has stopped It’s not a good example to set.”

The Reds were due to play Melbourne City in a re-located fixture in Sydney this weekend, but Verbeek had his doubts about stepping on a plane, even if the match had been mandated.

“If we go there it would have been a 14-day quarantine and the same coming back ... that’s not possible,”’he said.

“Also Sydney has the most cases of the virus and I don’t know whether I’ve had got on the flight there.

“I have my wife and a little child to think about and I would have to stay away from them when I return. Maybe I’d have to stay in a hotel or something.

“Just look at what’s happening in Europe - in the Netherlands, for example, they can’t control it any more.

“Around 240 people were placed in intensive care there yesterday and a lot of those might die.

“The situation is really bad - and you will see players refusing to play.”

It’s understood Wellington Phoenix players - currently in quarantine in Sydney - have had enough and want to return home to New Zealand, possibly as early as Tuesday.

Players from other teams, Verbeek said, were also poised to dig their heels in if asked to stay in NSW for weeks on end.

“They have families to think a about and you can’t force them into such a position in these modern times ... it’s not a solution,” he added.

Verbeek supports a shutdown until the end of April and a re-assessment then.

“If the situation is still urgent then, well we should just forget the season,” he continued.