COVID-19: Glory, Lynx, Wildcats, Eagles, Dockers, Scorchers all scrambling after border blindside

Braden Quartermaine, Nick Taylor, Craig O’Donoghue & Eliza ReillyThe West Australian
Glory owner Tony Sage, Wildcat Vic Law and the AFLW Eagles.
Camera IconGlory owner Tony Sage, Wildcat Vic Law and the AFLW Eagles. Credit: Various

WA’s professional sports teams were left in shock and limbo on Thursday night after Premier Mark McGowan announced the February 5 border opening date would be delayed indefinitely.

As Perth Glory owner Tony Sage put it: “We’re f...ked.”

It lobbed a grenade at the 2022 AFL fixture, while the seasons of the summer teams have now descended into chaos -- with some fearing financial disaster should their home fixtures have to be scrapped.

Perth Wildcats, Perth Glory, Perth Lynx and the Fremantle and West Coast AFLW teams are on the east coast and had planned to return following the opening date for a glut of catch-up home games. Perth Scorchers are preparing for their 14th away game in a row on Saturday in a final against Sydney Sixers.

Players from all sports will be allowed back into the State, but the fact they will now need to serve 14 days quarantine on return to WA will cause havoc.

The Wildcats were due to celebrate their 40th anniversary with a match against New Zealand at RAC Arena on February 6. The Lynx were also going to return from Victoria just days after the border opened. They haven’t played a game in front of home fans since the pandemic struck.

BALLARAT, AUSTRALIA - JANUARY 19: Brittney Sykes of the Capitals drives to the basket under pressure from Ashleigh Isenbarger of the Lynx and Alex Sharp of the Lynx during the round eight WNBL match between Perth Lynx and University of Canberra Capitals at Ballarat Sports Event Centre, on January 19, 2022, in Ballarat, Australia. (Photo by Kelly Defina/Getty Images)
Camera IconThe Lynx haven’t played in front of home fans in years. Credit: Kelly Defina/Getty Images

Fremantle and West Coast look set to spend the remainder of the AFLW season based in Victoria. The regular season is set to conclude in early March with finals to follow, leaving both clubs stranded on the east coast until then.

Glory’s men are expecting to play at least another five matches before flying back to WA while the women are scheduled to play three more games before returning home early February.

McGowan offered no indication on how long the border could remain closed, but offered the AFL clubs a glimmer of hope when he hinted they may be able to negotiate further exemptions from the rules announced to allow travelling teams into Perth.

“Sport is not my number one priority,” the Premier said.

“Obviously we’ll do what we did over the course of the last two years – sit down and work with the codes about what can be done.

“And we don’t know how long this arrangement will be in place for. That’s the nature of COVID.

“We work it out as we go along. We’ll work out arrangements that are pretty strong and tough subject to police and health advice. The Ashes didn’t want to abide by it so they didn’t come.”

If the Eagles and Dockers men’s teams are forced to start the season on the road, the AFL will have to decide whether they lose scheduled home games or if the fixture can be re-written to allow them a block of games in Perth towards the end of the season should rules loosen.

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - JANUARY 16: Dana East of the Dockers celebrates a goal with teammates during the 2022 AFLW Round 02 match between the Fremantle Dockers and the GWS Giants at VU Whitten Oval on January 16, 2022 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Michael Willson/AFL Photos)
Camera IconSemi-pro AFLW teams will be amongst the hardest hit. Credit: Michael Willson/AFL Photos

Glory chief executive Tony Pignata told The West Australian he was shattered.

“It’s a shocker. I’m flabbergasted. We asked specifically before we left about a date to come home.

“Yes, we can come back, but we have to do 14 days quarantine. Some families are with players now but it’s a lot to take in.

“You’ve got children at school, they have their own lives.”

Former Glory captain Rostyn Griffiths, a West Australian who now plays for Melbourne City, labelled McGowan “an absolute f….n clown” on Twitter.

International cricket coach Mickey Arthur, whose family is based in Perth, said he had not been able to get back to see his daughters for two years.

Dockers legend Matthew Pavlich, who has family in South Australia, tweeted: “Seriously?!”

The West Coast and Fremantle men’s teams are facing the galling prospect of having to start their seasons on the road and remain away indefinitely.

We’ll work out arrangements that are pretty strong and tough subject to police and health advice.

Premier Mark McGowan

The Western Force’s season is due to kick-off on Saturday February 19 against the Brumbies at HBF Park.

Rugby Australia and Super Rugby clubs have been in talks about moving the five Australian sides into a COVID-19 bubble to ensure the competition can go ahead.

Force chief executive Tony Lewis was “extremely disappointed” but said: “We all sit down and take a deep breath.

“There’s no point panicking. We will work our way through this.

“We have to sit down with the government and Rugby Australia and see what we’re going to do, what the government are going to allow sporting teams to do.

“If we can guarantee that incoming teams are all double vaxed, will stay in a bubble and are safe there might be some avenue. Let’s see how it unfolds.”

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