Melbourne Victory veteran Leigh Broxham is looking forward to the A-League’s focus shifting to the football field after a week of travel drama which has ended with the competition’s three Victorian clubs arriving successfully in NSW.
Victory, Melbourne City and Western United are all in a 14-day quarantine period after flying out of lockdown on Saturday morning in the coronavirus-hit state.
Broxham was one of about 120 players and staff who made the trip, which was a case of third time lucky after two botched attempts earlier in the week to get out of the state.
Those cancelled flights on Monday and Tuesday drew heavy criticism from the players’ union (PFA) and led to FFA head of leagues Greg O’Rourke accepting his job might be under scrutiny.
Having received NSW government travel exemptions on Thursday and a COVID all-clear from United’s most-recent tests, Broxham said everyone was just relieved the drama was over.
“It’s been stressful on all involved, everyone’s families as well,” the midfielder said.
“Once everyone’s settled in over the next 24 hours, you just kind of swallow the last week and, not forget, but you’ve got to look forward.
“All the guys that are here are looking forward just getting into training and to start preparing for the season (resumption).
“There’s been a lot going on with the league stopping and a lot good, bad or otherwise been spoken about but you know what hasn’t been – there is actual football itself.
“I’m looking forward to people actually talking about football in a positive way.”
During their quarantine period, the three clubs will be allowed to train but cannot play any fixtures.
Thursday’s match between Victory and United will have to be rearranged due to the quarantine period being in effect.
That will mean Friday’s match between leaders Sydney FC and Wellington at Jubilee Stadium will be the first fixture played since the league’s suspension in March due to the coronavirus pandemic.
At least two other early games face rescheduling – Western United’s clash on July 20 with City and Western Sydney’s game on July 22 against Victory.
United sit sixth with six games remaining and face a jam-packed schedule, while 10th-placed Victory have five matches to go. Second-placed City have just three regular-season games left.
“With all the games in the short period, staff will do their best to make sure everyone’s looked after and that injuries aren’t occurring with games in shorter periods,” Broxham said.
“We’ll prepare ourselves as much as we can with training.”
With a competition window which can be extended until August 30, FFA remains confident the remaining 27 regular-season fixtures and finals can still be accommodated despite the quarantine period.