The 2021 SANFL season has come to a momentary stop at round 16 as the South Australian public comes to grips with the prospect of a seven day lockdown.
It was announced on Monday afternoon that as a part of stage four restrictions no team, club or contact sport would be permitted until at least Friday.
The knockout blow then came a day later on Tuesday when a complete lockdown was announced.
The SANFL season was scheduled to consist of 19 minor rounds, including a split across the weekends of July 31/August 1 and August 7/8.
In a statement on Tuesday afternoon, SANFL CEO Darren Chandler reassured SANFL fans that all options would be assessed for the remainder of the 2021 season in the coming days.
“We will continue to review the situation over the coming days but are fully committed to seeing the season out,” Mr Chandler said.
“There are a number of options as part of our contingency planning, depending on the length of Covid restrictions.
“We have some flexibility to reschedule this weekend’s Round 16 matches across the upcoming split round and there is the possibility of extending the season beyond the current scheduled Grand Final date of September 19 should this be required.”
The 2021 season has largely been unaffected by the COVID-19 pandemic, with minor fixture alterations previously taking place to accommodate the fluid nature of AFL-affiliated sides Port Adelaide and Adelaide.
And whilst this current setback is troublesome at state league level, community football in South Australia has also been affected by the lockdown, as every league across the state must cease participation momentarily.
Mr Chandler said that the SANFL would be working closely with every affiliated league – including country and community leagues – to decide what the best course of action is from here.
“This is a tough time for so many industries, including football, and we encourage everyone in our community to remain vigilant at this time of increased risk in South Australia and follow the advice from SA Health,” he said.
“Now is the time for everyone involved in footy to do the right thing and adhere to State Government directions so we can get back to training and playing as soon as possible.”
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The SANFL will work alongside all SANFL clubs – including AFL reserves sides Port Adelaide and the Adelaide Crows – as to what the best way to proceed will be.
All round 16 games were meant to be played this Saturday, with Sturt hosting North Adelaide, Woodville-West Torrens taking on Central District at home, West Adelaide travelling to South Adelaide, Norwood doing battle with Adelaide and Port Adelaide welcoming Glenelg.
A decision on an updated round 16 fixture is expected to be made later this week.
Glenelg currently sit atop the SANFL league ladder, having won 14 in a row and not lost a game in 2021 – it’s centenary year.
The competition was postponed until June in 2020 as a result of a South Australian lockdown in March, however the season continued until it’s natural conclusion unaffected.
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