Western Australia Premier Mark McGowan looms as the Christmas Grinch to Australia’s summer sporting codes as the state faces the very real prospect of being shut off from the rest of the country.
WA is the only state without a roadmap to reopening for Christmas, and the tough stance is set to cause havoc on the sporting scheduling front.
The A-League Men’s and Women’s competitions, the NBL and WNBL, BBL cricket, the fifth Ashes Test, the ATP Cup and the AFLW are among the codes and events set to be heavily affected by WA’s tough border stance.
As of October 27, just 61.35 per cent of WA’s eligible population had been fully vaccinated against COVID-19, the lowest in the country.
As it stands, WA is completely closed off to COVID-riddled NSW and Victoria, with exemptions only granted under special circumstances.
But with South Australia set to ease restrictions to the rest of the country on November 23, and Tasmania and Queensland both planning to open up in December, WA is expected to significantly tighten restrictions with those states as well.
McGowan has already indicated WA won’t be opening up to NSW and Victoria until sometime in the first half of next year, and it could become a similar case with SA, Tasmania and Queensland if those states experience an influx of COVID-19 cases.
Perth Glory owner Tony Sage, who has lost about $30 million in the club during his 14-year tenure, said the dire border situation was bringing him close to throwing in the towel.
Glory start their season at home to Adelaide United on November 20, before embarking on a five-match road trip.
But their future beyond that is uncertain, with the prospect of hosting home matches appearing to be dimming by the day.
That is bad news for Sage, who forked out the dosh to lure former Liverpool and Chelsea star Daniel Sturridge in what loomed as a major drawcard in the club’s membership drive.
The WBBL season is due to be wrapped up by November 27, so the Perth Scorchers women’s side is set to escape the border fallout.
But the same can’t be said for the men’s side, with WA Cricket chief executive Christina Matthews airing her fears the Scorchers may not get to host a single game in Perth this season.
The BBL season is set to start on December 5.
The Perth Wildcats and the Perth Lynx also face the prospect of spending long stints on the road due to WA’s rigid restrictions on visiting teams.
Perth is almost certain to miss out on the ATP Cup tennis tournament for a second straight year, while the fifth Ashes Test scheduled for Optus Stadium from January 14 is in grave doubt.
As it stands, there are just five days break in between the end of the fourth Test at the SCG and the start of the fifth Test in Perth.
That falls short of the minimum seven-day quarantine period for visiting teams, and it remains to be seen whether the fixtures will be tweaked to accommodate Perth.
The AFLW season has already been pushed back to January 6, but that won’t be enough to help West Coast and Fremantle with their women’s teams facing the prospect of long stints on the road.
That scenario poses a particular problem in the AFLW given most players have a full-time job.