Football Federation Australia (FFA) has announced that the final rounds of the 2019-20 A-League season have been postponed due to coronavirus.
The A-League had initially gone behind closed doors amid the COVID-19 pandemic, with New Zealand-based side Wellington Phoenix remaining in Australia to complete the regular-season matches prior to the finals.
Monday’s clash between Newcastle Jets and Melbourne City went ahead without fans at McDonald Jones Stadium.
However, with Australia introducing strict travel conditions and states shutting down non-essential services, the A-League has followed the NRL and AFL in stopping the season.
The FFA – which hopes to reschedule games to complete the campaign – will review the situation over the coming weeks, with a further formal status assessment scheduled for April 22.
Football Federation Australia has announced a postponement of the final rounds of the Hyundai A-League 2019/20 Season, effective immediately.
— Hyundai A-League (@ALeague) March 23, 2020
“Our priority is to ensure the safety of both the football community and the community at large,” FFA chief executive James Johnson said in a statement on Tuesday.
“As each passing day raises additional concerns for the safety of both, it is imperative that we follow the lead of Governments at National and State level and take the necessary precautionary and proactive measures and in doing so play our part in preventing the spread and impact of COVID-19.
“To get so close to completing the competition, only to pull up a few weeks short, has been heartbreaking for the players, clubs and fans. That said, the health and safety of our fans, players, volunteers and staff has always been the overriding consideration for us.
“That is fundamentally what led – with the unanimous support of the State and Territory Member Federations – to the suspension of grassroots football until 14 April 2020. Today’s decision was equally difficult to make but it is borne from the same rationale.
“As the largest club-based participation sport with nearly two million participants, we have a clear and obvious duty to play our part in doing whatever we can to support the efforts to slow down the spread of COVID-19.
“On behalf of FFA Board and each Hyundai A-League Club, we thank the players for their assistance during these extraordinary times. We have done everything in our power to ensure the physical and mental welfare of the players and club staff and this decision means that, like the majority of Australians, they can now return home to be with their families during this difficult time.
“We’d like to thank our members, sponsors, volunteers and fans for their continued support during this unprecedented time.”