The SANFL will go on in 2020 without the Crows and Port Adelaide after the AFL said listed players will not be permitted to play in the league this season.
The AFL has barred players from competing in state leagues in 2020, meaning on its 150th anniversary, the Port Adelaide Football Club will bot be represented in the SANFL along with the Crows.
The SANFL will be an eight-team competition in 2020 after the AFL barred the Adelaide Crows and Port Adelaide from fielding in a state league competition.
The AFL has told clubs in a memo that no listed player will be permitted to participate in a second-tier competition in 2020 as part of the league’s return to training and playing.
It means that on the anniversary of the club’s inception the Port Adelaide Magpies will not SANFL for the first time.
Crows players will also be barred from playing in the SANFL this year under the AFL directive.
The move from the league comes because the part-time nature of the SANFL does not allow for the AFL-listed players to adhere to the strict medical protocols that will be in place for the national 2020 season.
SANFL chief executive Jake Parkinson said while it was disappointing the two AFL sides would not field teams in the competition the league had clarity.
“We now know it will be an eight-team SANFL competition in 2020 and we can move forward with our planning for a 14-minor round fixture to commence as soon as restrictions enable us to,” Mr Parkinson said.
“Training starts from next Monday for the eight SANFL Clubs and we are all looking forward to getting players back on the field for 2020 SANFL competitions.”
Instead of state league participation the AFL is considering “alternative arrangements” where players outside of the senior sides can play against each other in scratch matches to maintain game fitness and push their case for selection.
This would be in a controlled enviornment, in line with AFL and Government protocols.
Because of injuries and differing available players this could lead to condensed games and less players on each team.
Parkinson said the situations of Crows and Magpies’ non-AFL listed players would be given consideration as to where they might play.
Meanwhile, Adelaide head of football Adam Kelly said the club understood the AFL’s decision and would now look at other ways to develop its young players.
“This decision is understandable given the AFL protocols are aimed at ensuring the return of elite-level matches but it is nonetheless a disappointing outcome for all of our players, coaches and staff,” Kelly said.
“We will certainly miss being a part of the State League in 2020 and we will turn our attention to how we can best support our players without the benefit of match play.”
In the AFL memo to clubs, they have also been told all players and staff must undertake an initial COVID-19 swab test to begin later this week.
Clubs have also been asked to nominate an internal COVID-19 “Club Compliance Officer” who will be responsible for ongoing player and staff education and compliance with the AFL’s return to play protocols.
In the memo to clubs, AFL General Counsel Andrew Dillon said the competition “ … must prioritise the health and safety of our players, Club staff and the community and this necessarily means minimising, wherever possible, person-to-person contact; the adoption of a rigorous testing regime; and strict compliance with the health and safety protocols”.
“We must take a prudent approach to football department expenditure which recognises that a significant level of industry revenue has already been lost and there is further material risk to our financial position both this season and in future years,” he said.
Mr Dillon said the AFL was continuing to work with the various State Governments on the AFL Return to Train and Return to Play model.
Port Adelaide chief executive Keith Thomas has said the club wanted the Magpies to continue, but conceded it would be a decision taken out of their hands by the AFL.