The Fremantle Dockers are set to play an initial block of games based on the Gold Coast after the AFL today confirmed the 2020 season would resume on 11 June.
The AFL also confirmed that clubs could resume non-contact training in groups of eight from Monday 18 May and undertake full contact training from Monday 25 May, with Fremantle scheduled to fly to their Gold Coast base in the days prior to the Club’s round two clash.
CEO Simon Garlick said while it wasn’t the club’s preferred option to be based away from WA for the season re-start, it was a critical element in getting the season underway.
The playing group and a reduced travelling party will be based in a hub at the Royal Pines Resort, about 3km from Metricon Stadium.
“While being based away from WA obviously wasn’t our preferred option, we acknowledge the importance of ensuring the season can re-start and we have worked closely with the AFL to that end,” Garlick said.
“There were a range of factors we considered in terms of where we re-located to with a balance of ensuring we provide an environment that maximises our chances of winning as many games as possible, while at the same time ensuring the health and well-being of our players and staff remained as our absolute priority.
“Staying at a venue where our players can access elite training, rehabilitation and recovery facilities to prepare as required, as well enjoy their living conditions made a lot of sense.”
Garlick said the club remained optimistic about the prospect of Fremantle playing home games at Optus Stadium later in the season.
“Importantly, we are part of a national competition and we want to see the season up and running as soon as possible, not only for football fans but for the people whose livelihoods are at stake as well,” Garlick said.
“We will continue to work with the AFL on a range of options, as our members and supporters would expect us to.
“If there was to be a relaxation of the hard border at the back end of the season, we would work closely with the WA government and the AFL to ensure we play a run of home games at Optus Stadium.
“We understand and support the government’s position to do everything possible to contain the coronavirus and that the community’s health and safety are paramount, as it should be.
“Our Premier has confirmed he strongly supports the hub model and with that in mind the AFL are leaving flexibility in the fixture to ensure the ability to play games in WA later in the year is maximised even in the instance that the borders remain closed.
“Our focus is now on ensuring we prepare as well as possible to capitalise on the opportunities the move to the Gold Coast provides, whilst continuing to work towards a suitable resolution, so AFL games are played in WA later in the 2020 season.”