The door for fans to be in the stands for the final games of the 2019/20 A-League regular season and finals campaign remains well and truly open, with decision-makers saying they will do whatever they can to “accommodate as many club members and fans as possible” when the league returns.
On Tuesday, a day after securing an agreement with the Australian Professional Football Clubs Association (APFCA) and Professional Footballers Australia (PFA) over conditions surrounding a return, the FFA announced that July 16 had been pencilled in as the tentative date of the resumption of Australia’s top flight.
This is despite their still being, at time of writing, no deal between the FFA and broadcaster Fox Sports over the broadcasting of the remaining 27 games and finals series.
July 16.— Football Federation Australia (@FFA) June 15, 2020
Lock in the date. #FootballReturns
The announcement from the FFA comes off the heels of a meeting with National Cabinet last Friday, after which Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced that supporters could theoretically begin to make their way back to sporting events staged at venues with a capacity of 40,000 or below, at a maximum 25% attendance, "some time in July".
"It would have to be a large, open area,” said the PM. “There would need to be seats at the appropriate distance. It would need to be ticketed, so people would be able to understand who was in attendance at that event.”
With the relaxing of restrictions surrounding live fan attendance at sporting events set to come into effect, according to the FFA’s release, on July 1, it means that the final rounds of the 2019/20 season and finals campaign, even if uncertainty surrounds how fans at home will watch, will very likely be played in front of live crowds.
“Last Friday our Prime Minister, Scott Morrison, announced that Stadiums with capacities of 40,000 people or fewer could be permitted to host up to 10,000 people,” FFA’s Head of Leagues, Greg O’Rourke, said.
“We will continue to work closely with the Federal and State Governments, as well as our venues, to consider how we can accommodate as many club members and fans as possible at matches when the competition resumes.
“With our Finals Series still the best part of two months away, we are keen to keep our options and thinking open regarding how and where that may be held.
“Leading our decision-making in August be how we may be able to maximise the experience for members, fans, and commercial and broadcast partners, and rewarding the club that wins the right to host the Grand Final, subject to travel restrictions at the time.”
Though Wellington Phoenix and Perth Glory, the former whom are still awaiting clearance to enter Australia by authorities, are set to be based in Sydney to conclude the 2019/20 regular season, O’Rourke on Monday told AAP that he wouldn’t rule out the possibility that the Kiwis, who sit third on the A-League table heading into the resumption, could potentially host finals football.
"Our intent is to take the finals series where we can bring it to the most crowd and if that means all the border restrictions are released by sort of mid-August then we would follow our normal principles of whoever earns the right to host could host," O'Rourke said.
"That includes New Zealand too.
"If Wellington earn the right to host, then they could host the grand final."