‘Spectacular’: AFL could be back sooner than we think
A Blockbuster FightMND clash between Collingwood and Melbourne has not been ruled out to restart the AFL season as early as June 11.
Both the Magpies and Demons are keen to resume football with a bang --and in support of a good cause - with the Thursday night fixture which would fall just three days after Queen's Birthday Monday when they traditionally meet.
However, the Sunday Herald Sun understands a bumper fixture between Richmond and Collingwood is also being seriously considered to kickstart Round 2.
While June 18 had been considered a likely return date for football, there is increasing optimism that timeline could be pushed forward by a week.
The Victorian government is expected to ease restrictions tomorrow, which would pave the way for AFL players to return to training immediately in groups of up to 10.
Former Melbourne coach Neale Daniher's charity FightMND had been set to hold its sixth annual 'Big Freeze at the 'G' fundraiser on Queen's Birthday before the coronavirus pandemic hit.
Channel 7, Neale Daniher and the FightMND foundation have been in discussions centred on contingencies for the major fundraiser.
"They have got a plan in place to do something spectacular," Collingwood president Eddie McGuire said on Wednesday.
"That might be the first game, Collingwood and Melbourne, and if it is, obviously we'll do something big for the Neale Daniher (charity)."
While the AFL has tentatively earmarked June 11 for a return, the league knows it remains an ever-changing situation.
Football insiders are adamant the landscape is continuing to change, almost by the hour.
However, a June 11 return would position the AFL just two weeks behind the NRL, which is set to resume its season on May 28.
It would also mean the AFL could complete a 16-week home-and-away season by the end of September, ahead of an October finals series.
Coaches including Collingwood's Nathan Buckley have suggested it would take a minimum of three weeks intensive training for players to be ready to resume the season.
Clubs have called players back from interstate over the past week in readiness to resume training.
KENNETT EXPECTS RAPID MOVEMENT ON SEASON RESTART
Hawthorn president Jeff Kennett expects AFL clubs to be given a full schedule of remaining matches for the reworked 2020 season within a week.
The AFL will be clear to release its return-to-play plan after Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews has provided an update on his state's coronavirus restrictions on Monday.
Some estimates have put the AFL season on track to resume in June, but the league's plans will ultimately be shaped by state governments.
There are complications in planning around the fact some states have tighter travel and quarantine restrictions than others, which will likely prevent a regulation fly-in, fly-out model being used by all clubs.
The four AFL clubs from Western Australia and South Australia will likely have to play a sequences of away matches in order to restart the season.
They could then be given streaks of home matches later in the season to even out the fixture once restrictions are eased.
It means a floating or flexible fixture could be the AFL's best option.
But Kennett, who is part of the AFL's coronavirus steering committee, believes clubs will be given a level of certainty about the reworked 153-game schedule within days.
"I would expect that by the end of the week we will get an indication from the AFL what the schedule will look like," Kennett told 6PR radio on Saturday.
"Within five days (of Daniel Andrews' announcement on Monday) we'll get an outline of the fixture for the rest of the season.
"And probably, from all that I'm hearing, a start to the game in mid-June."
Adelaide coach Matthew Nicks said the Crows would make the sacrifice and temporarily relocate or play consecutive away games if necessary.
"Our preference would be to play home and away, obviously, to give us that advantage when we do play at home," Nicks told Fox Footy on Saturday.
"But we are 100 per cent flexible and we'll do whatever it takes from here to play footy.
"If that means we're forced to play away from home for a month or two months at the start of the season, maybe we can make that up later in the season.
"It will get done, whatever the AFL need us to do."
Originally published as 'Spectacular': Footy could be back sooner than we think