Melbourne Victory, Perth Glory and Sydney FC’s 2019/20 campaigns may stretch for at least a month after the A-League season ends, with the Asian Football Confederation agreeing to delay Champions League fixtures over coronavirus fears
After a meeting of representatives from Eastern Zone member associations on Monday, it was announced that ACL group fixtures initially scheduled to be played in March and April which, as a result of the coronavirus, cannot be staged, will instead be shifted to May 19-20, May 26-27, June 16-17, and June 23-24.
The A-League Grand Final is scheduled to take place on the weekend of May 16-17.
ACL group stage fixtures can, however, still go ahead on their originally scheduled dates on the condition that there is an agreement between the participatory clubs and relevant stakeholders.
Perth Glory had originally been scheduled to travel to Korea this week to take on Ulsan Hyundai, going so far as to risk sanction when they threatened to withdraw from the fixture over concerns about the virus, but the contest was eventually postponed.
At this stage, there has been no indication that Sydney's fixture against Jeonbuk Motors on Wednesday at Jubilee Stadium has been impacted.
.@alexwilkinson84 says he's ready to take on @TheAFCCL's all time greatest goalscorer & former @Jeonbuk_hyundai team mate this Wednesday.https://t.co/TWreS6EsEG#SydneyIsSkyBlue #WeAreChampions pic.twitter.com/tGAVDLrtyU— Sydney FC (@SydneyFC) March 2, 2020
The AFC has advised that a full slate of group stage fixtures will be confirmed by March 16.
Should the virus continue its spread unabated, fixtures involving clubs outside of Japan can be played in July, with any outstanding matches from matchday one and two needing to be completed before August.
The shift means that the ACL’s round of 16 fixture’s first legs will be played on August 11-12 and the return legs on August 25-26. Quarterfinals legs will be conducted on September 15-16 and September 29-30 and semi-finals on October 20-21 and October 27-28, 2020
The East and West’s finals dates, November 22 and 28 respectively, would remain unchanged.
“These are challenging, and unprecedented times and we are grateful that everyone has come together to try and find a solution which works for everyone,” AFC General Secretary Dato’ Windsor John
“As the AFC President, Shaikh Salman bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa has already stated, the AFC will not put anyone at risk during these times of heightened health concerns and so we have taken some sensible decisions to postpone both matches and events.
“The AFC hopes that there is a quick and safe end to this current situation and that we can return to normality where football can play a role in bringing some joy and entertainment to people’s lives. Our support and sympathies are extended to communities affected.”
Glory and Sydney had already had ACL fixtures postponed due to Australian government regulations preventing Shanghai Shenhua and Shanghai SIPG from entering Australia for matchday one.
The AFC is set to stage meetings with FIFA and Member Associations this week to discuss the impact of coronavirus on World Cup qualifying matches.