Football Federation Australia (FFA) has announced it has postponed the final rounds of the Hyundai A-League 2019/20 season in response to the ongoing spread of COVID-19 (Coronavirus).
The FFA will review the situation over the coming weeks with a formal status assessment scheduled for April 22, with clubs and players having indicated to FFA they will be ready to continue should the competition be able to resume.
This decision comes after the Australian and New Zealand government continue to implement border restrictions and social distancing measures that make the continuation of any competition impossible.
FFA CEO, James Johnson, said this is a difficult but necessary decision to help slow the spread of the Coronavirus.
“Our priority is to ensure the safety of both the football community and the community at large,” Johnson said.
“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,” he said.
Following this announcement, FFA also announced it has stood down around 70 percent of its staff in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.
“This has been an extremely difficult decision to make, but necessary to stabilise the organisation so that it can continue to service the game, albeit in a vastly different landscape,” Mr Johnson said.
“Industries all over the world have been severely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic and football in Australia is no different.
“We are in a situation where grass-roots football and the Hyundai A-League are currently suspended, we’ve had the postponement of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and the deferral of the international football calendar, so virtually all football activity has now ceased for the foreseeable future because of COVID-19.
“We have an incredible team here at FFA, and I am immensely proud of the work everyone does for football in this country.
“We have explored ways to retain as many staff as possible, including reducing essential roles to part-time, and asking staff to take annual leave and long service leave.
“Unfortunately, a number of staff members will have a period of leave without pay,” he said.
The announcement to suspend the 2019/20 A-League season is the latest in the string of major sporting leagues across Australia and the rest of the world, as world leaders intensify the restrictions and closures of non-essential services in an attempt to slow the spread and impact of the Coronavirus.