The 2020-21 A-League season will now kick off in Geelong on Monday, with Sunday’s proposed opener between Western Sydney and Macarthur FC in Sydney delayed.
Organisers announced that the Western Sydney Stadium game has been pushed back to December 30 and will be played with a restricted capacity after the COVID-19 cluster in Sydney’s northern beaches.
The decision means Monday’s match between Western United and Adelaide United at Kardinia Park will now be the opening fixture of the 2020-21 A-League season.
In a move which may have implications for January’s third cricket Test between India and Australia at the SCG, modified COVID-19 restrictions from the NSW Government will apply over the Christmas period.
It means the New Year’s Eve derby between Central Coast and Newcastle in Gosford will also be played at a venue with capacity capped at 50 per cent.
The decision also affects the W-League with the match between the Wanderers and Sydney FC, which was to be played before the A-League opener, also pushed back to December 30.
“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,” said Football Australia head of leagues Greg O’Rourke.
The A-League/W-League double-header was the only sporting event with a significant crowd expected in NSW at the weekend, with about 10,000 fans expected to attend.
Wednesday’s decision came 24 hours after officials postponed almost half of the A-League’s first 35 games due to the outbreak.
Bigger decisions await in other sports, including whether the third Test will go ahead in Sydney.
A NSW Health spokesperson said the situation was still being monitored.
“NSW Health continues to monitor the evolving situation relating to the recent Avalon cluster,” the spokesperson said.
“Our concern remains the health and safety of the people of NSW.
“We will update the community as the situation develops and we will adjust our advice accordingly.”
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