A-League heads to New South Wales 'hub' due to COVID-19 curbs


MELBOURNE (Reuters) - The remainder of the A-League season will play out mainly in the eastern state of New South Wales (NSW) because of travel restrictions imposed to curb the spread of COVID-19, organisers of Australia's top flight said on Wednesday.

Five venues in NSW and one in Queensland's Gold Coast have been confirmed to host matches, with the location of home games for the competition's three Melbourne teams yet to be determined, fixtures released on Wednesday showed.

Football Federation Australia's Head of Leagues Greg O’Rourke said venues in other states might come into play if government restrictions were eased.

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"As we are a truly national game, the current border controls means that some of the matchday venues may need to change," O'Rourke said in a statement.

"However, we have secured venues in both a 'NSW Hub model' and a hybrid hub model which has most games in NSW but allows for a few games in other states.

"Whilst we don’t see the draw changing, the planning we have undertaken provides us with agility to shift between certain states if required."

The A-League was suspended in March due to COVID-19, with six rounds of the regular season and the playoffs left to play.

Both mid-table Perth Glory and Adelaide United remain in the playoffs race but are unlikely to play any of their matches at home if border restrictions remain in place.

Third-placed Wellington Phoenix, the only New Zealand team in the competition, are drawn to play all their matches in NSW.

The Melbourne teams may play in the city when Western United play cross-town rivals Melbourne Victory and Melbourne City in successive rounds after the season resumes on July 16.

But they all face relocation north afterwards and will likely finish their seasons in NSW.

The A-League also confirmed its playoffs dates, with the first matches starting on Aug. 15, the semi-finals on Aug. 19-20 and the championship-deciding "Grand Final" on Aug. 23.

(Reporting by Ian Ransom; Editing by Peter Rutherford)

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