In response to a growing number of diagnosis of COVID-19 in his state, Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews announced that, from midnight tonight, residents in 36 Melbourne suburbs across 10 postcodes would be returning to stage stay-at-home laws until at least July 29.

Those living in the decreed areas will only be able to leave their homes to exercise, go to work, buy essential items including food, and access childcare and healthcare. Footballing activities, both for clubs that are based in the areas and players that live therein, are barred.

Victorian health authorities announced 74 new diagnoses of COVID-19 on Wednesday, up from 64 the day prior, as various State Governments around the country moved to limit travel to and from the state. 

In a statement posted to their website on Tuesday evening, however, FV stated that the new restrictions do not prevent competitions staged in other suburbs from taking place and that, in keeping with the organisations “FootbALLways” strategic plan, “football will continue to be scheduled and played in Victoria.”

As a result, junior boy's NPL competitions will kick off as scheduled for it’s South/East competition’s this weekend, although competitors in the North/West competition has had it’s fixtures postponed – with further advice to follow pending consultation with clubs.

Junior girl's NPL football, earmarked for the weekend of July 11/12, will also proceed as scheduled following consultation with clubs. Community juniors and MiniRoos in the South/East and Geelong can also kick-off as planned that same weekend, but their North/West equivalents will need to await further consultations with clubs.

FV intends for community seniors across the state to kick-off as scheduled on the weekend of July 25/26, although their NPL and NPLW compatriots will await consultations between the federation and clubs.

“We feel deeply for those unable to play and train at this time,” FV’s announcement read.

“Within our value of Unity, football will continue to be there for you in these difficult times and we can’t wait for you to come back.

“More broadly, we know our wonderful football community will support those clubs and individuals. We’ll do all we can to get everyone back on the pitch as soon as it is safe to do so.

“Furthermore, we understand that some will disagree with the decision and would prefer the entire football season be cancelled. We respect this view, and we also respect the right of clubs and individuals to make their own choices.

“However, as outlined above, FV exists to enable the game for those who want to play and we will continue to do that. FV has also taken into consideration that evolving lockdown scenarios may become an ongoing reality for our community and therefore a ‘one size fits all’ approach may not be appropriate.”

FV had been engaged in an uphill battle to salvage a 2020 season even prior to the latest round of COVID-19 diagnoses within the state, with NPL1 clubs expressing reservations about taking the field due to concerns surrounding safety, financial viability and competition integrity and the creation of fee relief and subsidies plans required to support COVID-19 hit clubs. 

In response to the latest setback to a potential 2020 campaign, the organisation issued a plea to its members to await further news surrounding their ability to compete.

“FV understands that the pressure on our amazing volunteers is enormous and that navigating your way through this - not least the ever-shifting health regulations - is extremely challenging,” the Federation’s statement read.

“We are doing our best to assist, guide and inform, wherever possible. However, we are all operating in an environment with ever-evolving information. We encourage our clubs to delay any major decisions at the moment, as we expect greater clarity to be provided over the coming days and weeks.

“There have been a number of questions in relation to fee-relief and refunds. The current lock-down scenario is an example of the need to keep our approach to fee-relief fluid rather than fixed.

“FV continues to assess fee-relief on the basis of season length and the costs for both Clubs and FV in running the competitions as they are revised and amended. The $1 million package of fee-relief (as previously advised) stands as a committed position.”