Australia’s A-League is set to resume on July 16 with a Melbourne derby followed by 27 games in a 28-day period.
Football Federation Australia on Tuesday announced the match between Victory and West United match as the official restart a day after players agreed a pay deal and the union and clubs agreed to extend the league to August 31. The league has been suspended since March because of the coronavirus pandemic and players and clubs have taken a financial hit.
League leader Sydney FC will take on Wellington Pheonix on July 17 in a revised schedule. Detail for the full remainder of the season is yet to be confirmed because of the prospect of relaxations on border restrictions that would allow clubs in most states to host games.
Two possible schedules have been drawn up for remaining matches. Under one, all 11 clubs will be based at a hub in New South Wales state and will play matches in Sydney and Newcastle. Under the second, clubs in Brisbane, Adelaide and Melbourne will be able to play matches at home if border restrictions are eased.
The New Zealand-based Wellington Phoenix will be based near Sydney after undergoing a mandatory 14-day quarantine.
With COVID-19 restrictions easing, FFA’s head of leagues Greg O’Rourke was confident crowds would be allowed back into stadiums at some stage after the season resumes.
Clubs have begun medical testing of players and staff to permit a return to training, which will resume Wednesday.
FFA remains in negotiation with broadcaster Fox Sports, which has sought a reduction in its annual rights payment because of the disruption to the league.
The national soccer league is the last of Australia’s four professional football competitions to restart after the pandemic. The National Rugby League was the first to resume in late May, and the Aussie rules Australian Football League recommenced last weekend. The rugby union Super Rugby AU will kick off on July 3.
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