To the Purple Army,
Today, we got the news we’ve all been waiting for. Footy is back! At least in some form.
While we’re as disappointed as you that the AFL’s return will not involve fans at the games for the foreseeable future, it’s exciting that a start date has been confirmed for the league to resume from Thursday 11 June.
As part of the return to play, we will temporarily relocate to the Gold Coast for an initial block of games over a four-week period against the two Queensland and two South Australian teams.
But there’s still uncertainty around how long we will be located on the Gold Coast and away from WA.
What we do know is that non-contact training resumes on Monday 18 May.
This will move to full-contact training on Monday 25 May.
Our first game will be in the days following the season resumption on Thursday 11 June, and we will play three more games while located on the Gold Coast.
That gives us a two-month period of certainty, which is a long time in the context of this year.
We’ll assess the next phase with both the AFL and the relevant government authorities, with the obvious strong preference that we return to WA to continue our season as soon as possible.
As a team that travels regularly, it is clear that heading interstate to play football for an extended period is not our preference.
We worked really hard with the State Government and the AFL in relation to resuming the season in Perth, but it wasn’t something we could achieve in the short term.
Given the challenges that the industry and the whole community faces, we now accept this was the best scenario that has allowed us to get back to play.
I have faith there is a very strong intent from the AFL to achieve as much equity as possible over the course of the year.
The league is looking to keep flexibility in the fixture to allow games to be played in Perth in the latter part of the season. Be it in a traditional manner if the WA border restrictions are eased or via a hub approach if not.
The time away will be a challenging time for our players, but it also presents a period of opportunity.
I can tell you our coaches, players and staff have immediately started to focus on ways we can get the best out of this situation, both from an immediate win/loss perspective as well as some of the significant long term benefits that our group can gain.
We have a young and emerging group that is building a culture and environment that they own, live and breathe every day.
This is an opportunity to go away for this block of games together and be successful on the field.
It also helps them continue to forge their already strong bonds and levels of determination to build an ongoing and sustained period of success at Fremantle.
The players and staff that start training next week and head to the Gold Coast will be subject to a set of protocols that is well above what is required by the community.
In essence, these protocols give us a licence to play. They are there to protect both the players and the community.
The players will be approaching this in the same way they would approach the prevention of an injury. It’s not just to get the game going again, it’s because we want our players, and our overall squad in the best possible shape they can be.
While we remain hopeful that crowds return to the footy later in the year, we know that’s not going to be the case for a significant portion of the season.
With that in mind, we’re going to be in contact with our members next week with all of the options available regarding your 2020 membership.
Our whole team has worked really hard to ensure we’re providing something really innovative and exciting to recognise and thank our members for their ongoing support.
We can’t thank you enough for your understanding in what has been a trying time for both the game and for the greater community.
The 2020 season has clearly not gone as we envisaged, but football is back and we are going to ensure we make the most of the opportunity.
And I know our playing group can’t wait to repay our members for the amazing support you’ve given us.