AFL.com.au's Damian Barrett shares his predictions for the upcoming season...
THE 2020 season fixture is in the process of being torn up, with a fresh schedule to be announced later this month.
It is expected that matches, when they resume from the COVID-19 shutdown, will be mostly played in the "traditional" slots of Thursday through to Sunday, with only a few games to be played on Mondays, Tuesday and Wednesdays.
If the games are to resume in that Thursday to Sunday configuration, the push to increase team sizes for the remainder of 2020 from 22 to 24, which would have allowed for six players on the interchange, will significantly diminish.
The AFL will remain unable to lock-in its new fixture until all state governments move closer to uniform allowances on social distancing and general movement of people as they introduce economic measures in attempts to re-start their economies post the Coronavirus pandemic.
In a season which had already been reduced from 22 matches per team to 17, 144 home and away season matches are still to be played in 2020. It is likely all those games will be played in empty stadiums.
It is believed the broadcasters – Channel Seven and Foxtel – would prefer a traditional sequence of matches over an ad hoc one.
When the AFL suspended the 2020 season after Round 1, it said it intended to keep rounds 2-4 as fixtured, but the extended shutdown has forced it to reconsider that plan.
The national cabinet is expected to announce a relaxation of its restrictions out of a meeting on Friday and the Victorian premier Daniel Andrews will next Monday address his state's strict rules.
The AFL industry is hopeful that the expected easing of Victorian restrictions will allow for all players to return to club facilities within 10 days of that announcement.
From there, in order for football matches to be signed-off by governments, clubs will need to adhere to training in groups of 10 until approved otherwise by the federal government, which is acting on an Australian Institute of Sport document addressing sports' return post-COVID-19.
It remains possible that due to border restrictions placed around Western Australia that Fremantle and West Coast will need to relocate for a period of time in order to get matches played again.
Hungry for more information about the 2020 season? Our Hawthorn's Heavy Hitters podcast will keep you informed on all the latest news.