Plans to launch the A-League and W-League seasons together for the first time have been scuttled by the COVID-19 outbreak on Sydney's northern beaches, with Sunday's double-header postponed to help mitigate any possible risk of exposure.
Sunday's extravaganza at Bankwest Stadium – which was to pit Western Sydney against Sydney FC in the W-League, and the Wanderers and Macarthur FC in the A-League – has been pushed back to Wednesday, after consultation between league bosses and the NSW government.
The A-League and W-League season starts have been pushed back again.Credit:Peter Rae
Crowds will be capped at 50 per cent of capacity for those matches, as well as the New Year's eve showdown between the Central Coast Mariners and Newcastle Jets. Restrictions on sporting events have been reintroduced until the end of December.
A crowd of about 15,000 was expected for at Bankwest, where Macarthur were due to play their first official match in the A-League.
The A-League season will now kick off on Monday, with Western United's clash with Adelaide United at GMHBA Stadium in Geelong. On Tuesday, Brisbane Roar and Melbourne City's men's and women's teams will meet in a double-header at Dolphin Stadium.
"We have worked closely with the NSW Government to ensure that the A-League and Westfield W-League seasons will go ahead as planned with the best possible experience for fans and players within the current restrictions," said Greg O'Rourke, the head of the A-League and W-League.
"Moving the matches back three days with a reduced capacity supports the government’s risk mitigation plan in relation to crowds and to mobility around the city during this Christmas period and New Year’s Eve."
On Tuesday, a revised version of the A-League draw was released to navigate the various border restrictions imposed since the start of the northern beaches coronavirus outbreak.
The changes have effectively split the A-League into two conferences – teams within NSW and teams in other states, who are able to travel to play each other freely with no restrictions.
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