By Nick Creely
Football Victoria (FV) has officially cancelled all senior competitions in metropolitan Melbourne this season in the wake of a spike in Covid-19 cases.
With metropolitan Melbourne and Mitchell Shire back into Stage 3 lockdown, FV has announced that all senior metropolitan competitions, including NPL and community leagues will not proceed or resume as fixtured, with alternative competitions and football options over the spring and summer to be discussed, but based on an opt-in basis with clubs.
At this stage, Junior NPL competitions are set to resume in modified form, with FV targeting a start date in September, subject to Government restrictions. Community junior competitions will also target a similar return date.
“Following the Victorian Government’s decision to reintroduce lockdown restrictions due to the number of active coronavirus (Covid-19) cases, Football Victoria is announcing a series of changes to its competition structures for the remainder of 2020,“ an FV statement read.
“The decisions made by FV have always been made with the intention of enabling football to be played by as many people as possible. However, despite the best efforts of our amazing clubs and their volunteers, FV staff and every one of the game’s stakeholders, it will be impossible to run complete competitions for every age group and level.
“As such, FV has made a series of decisions to establish which competitions can proceed as fixtured, which can be altered and which we have been forced to cancel. These have been incredibly difficult decisions to make in a challenging and complex environment.
“On the whole, we are incredibly disappointed that we have not been able to host a complete season for every participant who wishes to play football, however the health and safety of community remains our number one priority.“
FV said that despite a lockdown forcing senior football in metropolitan Melbourne and Mitchell Shire to be cancelled, they are still committed to seeing sport played in regional Victoria.
“In regions that are not facing lockdowns, junior (18 and under) football can continue to be played, and we intend to create a schedule that allows for competition to take place, noting that some of those competitions are fixtured by FV and some are managed by the local association,“ FV said.
“FV is still working through a vast number of issues related to fixturing, including those pertaining to regional clubs who participate in metropolitan competitions, or where there is significant crossover with clubs who are marginally outside the boundaries of affected regions.
“We are also cognisant that there will be players in affected areas who play for clubs outside those zones, and vice versa. Issues of club and player eligibility will be clarified in the coming days.
“For those players currently in lockdown zones who want to play later in the year, Football Victoria will operate modified competitions and other football options on an ‘opt-in’ basis, giving as much of our community as possible the opportunity to step onto the pitch.
“We anticipate from September, the following competitions structures are projected to be in place.“