COVID lockdown chaos: Game moved, players stranded
The AFL has ruled that Brisbane's contest against Collingwood will be played at Marvel Stadium on Thursday night.
The Herald Sun understands the league has told the Lions they will keep them in Melbourne until that contest, with the league effectively swapping Collingwood's Round 22 Marvel fixture with the Lions' Gabba clash.
That Round 22 game was to be played at Marvel Stadium, with Thursday's contest now at the AFL-owned ground.
The MCC were happy to cater for this week's contest at the last minute, but with the last three Collingwood-Brisbane contests at Marvel Stadium not topping 34,000 fans the Docklands venue can accommodate the crowd.
Marvel Stadium can cater for 43,000 fans under its revised 75 per cent capacity.
The Lions will have to fly extra players down given Oscar McInerney suffered an ankle injury that will likely keep him out of the contest.
"In the interest of the health and safety of both clubs and the wider community we have made the decision to move the match to Marvel Stadium," AFL general manager broadcasting and clubs Travis Auld said.
"Marvel Stadium was the scheduled venue for the return match between these two clubs later in the season, which made the decision to switch the venues as per the fixture the appropriate choice.
"As we continue to navigate the ongoing pandemic, we are constantly ensuring we have the contingencies in place to best combat any challenges that are presented.
"On behalf of the AFL I would like to thank both clubs for their patience and understanding of the evolving situation."
The Lions are training in Port Melbourne on Monday morning, with football boss Danny Daly originally stating the club had been hopeful of returning to Queensland this afternoon.
But the Queensland Government has announced a three-day lockdown for three days from 5pm (6pm AEDT) on Monday after 10 new cases were uncovered.
Four of those cases are locally acquired, with health authorities trying to stop a cluster that started when a man tested positive on Thursday.
Meanwhile Gold Coast is yet to be told by the AFL whether they will be forced to relocate out of Queensland early.
The Suns play Adelaide in Adelaide on Friday in a night game, but the Gold Coast is currently not in the three-day lockdown that will take in Greater Brisbane.
But should the lockdown spread past Brisbane given two infected people spent time in Byron Bay, the Suns might not be able to get out of Queensland.
The league is yet to advise the AFL but the Suns are bracing to have to move out of Queensland early to ensure the league can guarantee that game will go ahead.
Daly told Brisbane's Radio TAB that before the three-day lockdown was announced the Lions still hoped to fly out on Monday.
"We are training at Port Melbourne. Basically as it stands we go home this afternoon but we are waiting for the AFL to get back to us today at some stage to confirm what the state of affairs is.
"At this stage we are going home this arvo but we are also mindful that we would be staying so we are not 100 per cent sure."
He said the entire list went to a Big W to stock up on socks and underpants, with players testing negative to COVID so allowed out of their hotel.
"To be honest once we found out we were going to be staying for a day or so we had a meeting and bunkered down and one thing about this group is that when we are together we get on really well so we will hang out together.
"Most of us went to the footy and watched the Bulldogs-Eagles. At the end of the day we will manage what we can and we are waiting to see what happens."
COMMENTATORS, FANS ASKED TO LEAVE STADIUM
Friday night's Brisbane-Geelong match in Geelong proceeded only after the AFL obtained a last-minute exemption for the Lions.
The new footy drama emerged after the positive case of the highly contagious UK variant was detected in Brisbane.
It sparked the Victorian government at 6.45pm to order anyone who has been in Brisbane from March 12 to immediately isolate until they received a negative result.
That decision, less than an hour before the 7.50pm start of the clash at GMHBA Stadium, resulted in fans who had been in Brisbane ordered from the stadium by a government health alert on the scoreboard.
Former Hawthorn and Lions champion Luke Hodge, who was broadcasting for Channel 7, was told to leave the commentary box because he had flown in from Brisbane.
Another Channel 7 commentator, North Melbourne great Wayne Carey, also left the ground because he had been at a function in Brisbane on March 14.
Channel 7 Melbourne managing director Lewis Martin said that as soon as the station became aware of the government health advice via Twitter, it responded and asked Hodge and Carey to exit the stadium.
"They'll be tested in the morning as per the advice and any citizen in Queensland in the advised time," Mr Martin said.
"That was done as soon as we were aware and out they went."
Originally published as COVID lockdown chaos: Game moved, players stranded