The Australian Baseball League has today announced it is pushing back the start of the upcoming 2021/22 season by a month due to the challenges COVID-19 is presenting.
The 2021/22 ABL season was scheduled to begin on November 18, however management is now targeting a mid-late December start. Last year, the season didn’t begin until December 17 amid COVID-interrupted instances and concluded within the first week of February.
Baseball Australia chief executive Glenn Williams said the pushback on the upcoming season allows a greater sense of clarity in where the country will sit with restrictions and allow for any scheduling changes to be made to the fixture.
“With each day that passes it is becoming less likely that we will be able to play the opening rounds as planned due to the current COVID-19 status in Australia and with the various border restrictions in place,” Williams said.
“By making an early call to delay the start date our aim is to minimise the impact of COVID-19 on the season and give clubs the best chance of playing in front of home fans.”
Williams added that the ABL was unable to provide a new confirmed date of when the 2021/22 season may get going or an expected time when an updated schedule would be available. He did however reiterate that the six competing clubs for this year’s competition are all committed to finding the best solution possible to play.
“We will continue to monitor the COVID situation and plan according to the advice and responses of the federal and state governments,” he said.
“We hope to be in a position to provide a clear path forward, including a start date and format of the season, in mid to late October.
“We thank our fans, players, clubs and corporate partners for their unwavering support during these challenging times.”
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The Melbourne Aces – who were set to get their back-to-back Claxton Shield title defence underway in Canberra against the Cavalry – General Manager Justin Huber said the organisation is still looking at delivering a great product to fans.
“Undoubtedly this is a difficult decision for the ABL, however we are in full support and will now divert our focus to December,” Huber said.
“This will allow for an extra month of preparation for our players and front office, with our sole vision to retain the Claxton Shield in Melbourne, and provide our fans with the best value professional sports experience in Australia.”
The Perth Heat – the team Melbourne beat in last season’s Championship Series – Chief Executive Steven Nelkovski said the change to the schedule wouldn’t effect the team’s preparations.
“Perth Heat will be ready to play ball. Our manager Andy Kyle and the team understand the need to be flexible,” Nelkovki said.
“We’d like to thank and acknowledge our commercial partners, members and supporters for their understanding as we look forward to an exciting summer of baseball.”
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