With his side racing to find its cohesion again of a "mini-tournament", Melbourne City midfielder Josh Brillante believes that the A-League's is a massive win for Australian football.
On Tuesday, the A-League confirmed it was restarting its 2019/20 season with a Melbourne Victory and Western United clash on July 16 kickstarting a run of 27-games in 28 days before a finals campaign at the end of August.
But despite being the last major league in Australia to suspend play in the face of COVID-19, the A-League is now set to also be the last to resume its play with both the AFL and NRL back in action while the A-League enters a new 'mid-season pre-season'.
At times, the negotiations to bring back the highest tier of Australian football felt like it was lurching from one crisis point to another, with disagreements between the various stakeholders threatening to derail any hopes of a 19/20 conclusion.
Nonetheless, with clubs and players now back at training ahead of an anticipated return to play, Brillante is pleased to see football coming back to life once more.
“It’s massive, just for the game of football in Australia it’s huge,” the midfielder said today.
“The A-League over the years has been growing and growing. I think football is one of the most popular sports with kids around Australia so for us to keep playing games is so important.
“There are a lot of people around the country that love the sport, we love playing it so it would have been sad to not be able to finish the season and then have a long period of unknown. It’s great to finalise that and get back into it.”
Before the March shutdown, Brillante and his teammates sat second on the A-League ladder, four points clear of third-placed Wellington Phoenix, but with the Kiwis having three games in hand.
Table-toppers Sydney FC had an eight-point lead going into lockdown while also having three games in hand - making City's chances of overhauling them virtually impossible.
But the FFA confirming a finals campaign will still be salvaged from 2019/20 means City’s could yet add to the club's lone 2016 FFA Cup win.
And for Brillante, who left Sydney to sign with City ahead of the current campaign, the unexpected three-month break in the league - in which City was one of the few clubs that didn't stand down its playing group - means that the championship is well and truly up for grabs.
"It’s been a long time, I think everyone at the club is very happy to be back,” he said.