The Asian Champions League has been thrown into utter chaos this season and A-League clubs Melbourne Victory, Sydney FC and Perth Glory could suffer the consequences.
COVID19 has wreaked havoc with the tournament, from defending champions Al Hilal withdrawing due to an influx of cases, to one team in the grand final before others have started the group stage.
Saudi club Al Nassr, home to Brad Jones, will play against Iranian's Perspolis tomorrow morning to find out which will face off in the ACL showpiece, but Australian clubs have only played one or two matches.
The ACL has been split into western and eastern geographic halves to reduce travel burdens as the tournament still tries to find its feet financially in a region where the UEFA showpiece still dominates.
In order to placate broadcasters and federations across the region, the AFC have attempted to keep football going however possible, but a hub-style tournament in Doha has meant further clubs have had to pull out.
“These are tough times for everyone connected with football — and sport in general,” AFC President Sheikh Salman bin Ibrahim Al-Khalifa said, adding they were trying to resume the competition to help the “financial well-being of the AFC and its member associations.”
“I am certain that … we can overcome this latest challenge.”
This means that A-League clubs are yet to finish the group stage, a full six month delay, due to tight travel restrictions across much of the region.
A-League clubs, which are already among the smaller financial powers in the tournament and have been ravaged by a smaller broadcast deal, face the toughest outbound travel restrictions in the AFC.
According to Perth Glory CEO Tony Pignata, the need to quarantine their players in particular will be another financial blow to the clubs.
“The issue for us ... is it’s very hard to get out of the country, let alone coming back with the limited number of international passengers allowed back,” he said.
“It’s going to come to a point: How do we do this from a logistics point of view? We’ve got to come back from an overseas destination, we’ve got to spend two weeks in hotel quarantine at our cost. We have 30 people, it gets very expensive.”