Sydney’s coronavirus outbreak has thrown the start of the A-League and W-League seasons into disarray, with multiple games in serious doubt amid border closures.
The A-League and W-League seasons are due to kick-off on December 27 but now up to 14 games – nine A-League and five W-League fixtures across the first two-and- a-half weeks of the two competitions – are set to be postponed.
On Sunday, the NSW capital’s COVID-19 cluster jumped to 70 cases, prompting every state and territory to shut their borders.
From midnight Sunday, most people travelling from greater Sydney and the Central Coast will not be able to enter Victoria and if they do they will have to complete 14 days of hotel quarantine.
Meanwhile people from Sydney, the Blue Mountains, the Central Coast and Illawarra-Shoalhaven will be ordered into 14-day quarantine on arrival in Queensland from 1am on Monday.
The A-League has five teams in the affected NSW regions: Sydney FC, Western Sydney, Macarthur FC, Central Coast and Wellington while the Sky Blues and Wanderers also have W-League teams.
Two A-League games and two W-League games in the opening round face postponement.
Victory’s W-League team were meant to play the Wanderers on the opening day, while Melbourne City’s A-League and W-League teams were both scheduled to face Sydney FC on December 30.
The Wollongong-based Wellington Phoenix had been scheduled to travel to Brisbane to face the Roar on December 29.
“We have 218 games to play in the next (six) months and our plan is to deliver all of those games,” head of leagues Greg O’Rourke said in a statement.
“Where games are impacted by border closures, we will postpone those matches to be played at the earliest opportunity.
“We are closely tracking and reviewing government guidance, and building our plans to ensure that we have the flexibility to respond dynamically to any guidance changes.”
It also appears likely crowd capacities will be reduced for any games in NSW – including the A-League season-opener between Western Sydney and Macarthur FC.
Meanwhile it’s unclear what the immediate future holds for Melbourne Victory.
The majority of the club’s A-League players and staff due to complete their 14-day hotel quarantine in Sydney on Tuesday following their Asian Champions League campaign.
If they are unable to obtain a travel exemption, Victory’s situation could potentially see players and staff experience back-to-back quarantines.
The border closures have left officials across various sports scrambling to adjust their fixtures.
Cricket Australia must still decide what to do with the third Test in Sydney, starting January 7.
The Victorian border closure could present challenges to the Big Bash, with Perth Scorchers and Hobart Hurricanes due to travel between Sydney and Melbourne next month.
Cricket Australia had also planned for a proper home finals series to follow the matches in Melbourne and Sydney but that now appears under threat.
The NBL will also face decisions around their 2021 plans ahead of their season tip-off on January 10.
The iconic Sydney to Hobart yacht race was on Saturday cancelled for the first time in its 76-year history.