COVID-19 has officially claimed the 2020 NPL and NPLW Victoria seasons, with Football Victoria cancelling all senior competitions in the Melbourne metropolitan area in the wake of the city’s virus spike.
Both NPL and community competitions will not proceed or resume in 2020, with alternative options surrounding possible spring and summer football to be discussed with clubs on an opt-in basis in the future.
NPL and community juniors, however, were spared the axe with some form of modified competition targeted for a September resumption on an opt-in basis, subject to health restrictions,
And with large swathes of regional Victoria having avoided a second wave of COVID-19 to now, FV affiliated junior competitions in Geelong and other regional areas can continue as scheduled but senior training and competition is suspended pending further advice from health services.
Other regional associations are also free to determine their own junior season’s outlook, although their senior seasons, too, remain suspended.
“In regions that are not facing lockdowns (outside of metropolitan Melbourne and the Mitchell Shire), junior (18 and under) football can continue to be played, and we intend to create a schedule that allows for competition to take place, noting that some of those competitions are fixtured by FV and some are managed by the local Association,” FV said in a statement today.
“FV is still working through a vast number of issues related to fixturing, including those pertaining to regional clubs who participate in metropolitan competitions, or where there is significant crossover with clubs who are marginally outside the boundaries of affected regions.”
The NPL Victoria season was five rounds old at the time of its suspension back in March, with FFA Cup specialists Hume City sitting atop the table after five wins from five. NPLW, NPL2, NPL3 and numerous community competition's had yet to resume.
Top-flight clubs had raised concerns around the viability of a 2020 season prior to Melbourne's second wave, with FV laying out a series of principles that would allow a return to play in response.
Victoria recorded 270 new COVID-19 cases on Tuesday, with 28 linked to known outbreaks and 242 under investigation. Coming in just 18 diagnoses shy of a state record set last Friday, it marks the ninth day in a row in which Victoria has recorded triple-digit growth in cases.
"It's not as high as our biggest single day, but we haven't turned the corner yet,” Victoria's Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton, said of the state’s COVID-19 numbers on Tuesday.
"I hope to see that this week, but there are no guarantees. Again, we have to rely on everyone doing the right thing in order to drive numbers down.”
Nine people were admitted to intensive care in the state overnight due to the virus, taking the state’s total to 26. AFL star Bachar Houli's mother is among them, with the Richmond star releasing an emotional message to the community on Monday, pleading with people to do their part to fight the virus.
"What hurts truly is the fact that no one from her family members can go and visit which is very, very tough. Please put yourself in this position."— AFL (@AFL) July 13, 2020
Our thoughts are with Bachar Houli, his mother Yamama and the extended Houli family 💛
More: https://t.co/DQMqCtTSM3 pic.twitter.com/BGMUOrITKb
“The decisions made by FV have always been made with the intention of enabling football to be played by as many people as possible,”
“However, despite the best efforts of our amazing clubs and their volunteers, FV staff and every one of the game’s stakeholders, it will be impossible to run complete competitions for every age group and level.
“As such, FV has made a series of decisions to establish which competitions can proceed as fixtured, which can be altered and which we have been forced to cancel. These have been incredibly difficult decisions to make in a challenging and complex environment.
“On the whole, we are incredibly disappointed that we have not been able to host a complete season for every participant who wishes to play football, however the health and safety of community remains our number one priority.”
The swathes of cancellations and modifications set to take effect across Victoria’s various competitions also raises the question of what will happen to the fees and registrations already paid to the governing body for the 2020 season.
“We understand the football community (reasonably) would like to have certainty in relation to both club and FV/FFA fees,” FV said.
“It is noted that both clubs and FV have incurred costs to date in twice preparing for the commencement of seasons, and in some competitions, the season had already commenced.
“In these unprecedented and rapidly changing times, FV has a responsibility to ensure the viability of our clubs and ultimately the game in Victoria.
“FV is working through this issue as an absolute priority in conjunction with our clubs and will respond on this once we have established a position that balances the best interests of the game and a reasonable apportionment of costs and accordingly fees.”