But there is also a chance that by holding it back until later in the year, crowds might be allowed to attend by then.
“If it’s able to be slotted in at a point where crowds are allowed in some form, that’d be really beneficial,” Matthews said.
“And there’s some work being done at our end about how social distancing crowds might be possible at a later point in the season.
“I know it’s being done at AFL level as well – all sports are contemplating that as restrictions are carefully eased, but there’s a factor that you don’t want the community to get too complacent about the position we’ve got ourselves into.”
With AFL teams playing each only other once this season, it’s still to be decided who will host the derby.
“Clearly, we’d love to,” Swans chief executive Tom Harley said. “But at this stage it’s out of our control. We won’t get ahead of health authorities or government regulations but, what the AFL have done for the round 2-5 fixtures, is have some big games in there but not spend all their pennies just yet.
“We don’t know when it’s going to be but, if it is later in the season and there’s the prospect of crowds, I think that would be a fantastic thing to look forward to.”
Both clubs welcomed the draw, which is also accommodating from a physical perspective – the worst it gets for the Swans and Giants is one five-day turnaround apiece.
Harley said it was an “added bonus” for Sydney to land so many free-to-air games, which guarantees wider exposure for their sponsors at a difficult time in the sports industry.
“They’re really good slots and we have been a team that’s rated well over the past decade,” he said. “This season is going to look and feel different for the players and football department staff and to play three of those first four games, despite not having crowds, at our home ground is positive as well.”
Matthews said the Giants “deserved” to play on the big stage, having marked their credentials as a genuine AFL flag contender with a deep run in last year’s finals series.
“The current circumstances tell you there’s not really any big clubs or small clubs – there’s only exciting clubs,” he said. “It’s making it even easier for the AFL to say, ‘well, the Giants play exciting football, very watchable’, and our ratings – given the history of the club – have always been very strong. We’ll deliver some real entertainment over the four-week block, I have no doubt.”
With certainty over what the next two months will look like, Harley and Matthews confirmed the Swans and Giants will now revisit plans for a weekly series of friendly matches or opposed training sessions for players not selected for AFL duty, since the NEAFL is off limits.
Vince is a sports reporter for The Sydney Morning Herald.