All Lions players and staff who arrived in Melbourne last week have returned negative test results. They will live under the same pandemic rules as the rest of Victoria. They now have a squad of 28 players in Melbourne, which they believe is enough to see them through for the Bulldogs match in round four. The Lions will train at Punt Road on Tuesday.
The AFL confirmed the switch of venues and said the return match between the Magpies and the Lions, which was scheduled for Marvel in round 22, would now be played at the Gabba.
“In the interest of the health and safety of both clubs and the wider community we have made the decision to move the match to Marvel Stadium,” said Travis Auld, the AFL’s general manager of broadcasting and clubs.
“Marvel Stadium was the scheduled venue for the return match between these two clubs later in the season, which made the decision to switch the venues as per the fixture the appropriate choice,” he added.
“As we continue to navigate the ongoing pandemic, we are constantly ensuring we have the contingencies in place to best combat any challenges that are presented.”
Speaking at a press conference after the announcement, Auld said the AFL was keeping an eye on other regions of Queensland.
“The focus is on how other states will treat Queensland and Brisbane. There could be some knock on,” he added.
Fans who bought tickets to the Gabba match can use their tickets for the return clash in round 22 or receive a refund, while tickets for Thursday’s match at Marvel will go on sale on Tuesday. The league is optimistic of a decent crowd despite the short notice and the Easter Thursday timeslot.
The Lions are expected to take a financial hit from the relocation.
One further reason to move the game is that the Lions’ players will face issues with training if they return to Brisbane.
Collingwood have not agitated at all for the game to be shifted, since their preference was for the return game against the Lions late in the season to remain.
Earlier on Monday morning, the Lions trained at Port Melbourne.
Coach Chris Fagan said the players were beginning to get their heads around the idea of being in Melbourne for longer than initially intended.
A source familiar with the situation indicated on Monday that Suns players were told they could be on the road for up to two weeks, potentially throwing their round-four home game against Carlton into doubt.
Jake Niall is a Walkley award-winning sports journalist and chief AFL writer for The Age.
Anthony is a sports reporter at The Age.
Daniel is an Age sports reporter