AFL gives clubs permission to organise scratch matches

The AFL has cleared the path for all 18 clubs to organise scratch matches between themselves from next week.

The league announced on Wednesday afternoon it had informed all teams to advise them of arrangements for non-selected AFL players during Rounds 2 to 5.

From next week, clubs will be permitted to arrange match simulation sessions -- or scratch matches -- for non-selected players against other clubs in their respective state.

The decision follows the move to ban players from competing in second-tier leagues such as the VFL, WAFL, SANFL and NEAFL, because of the strict medical protocols in place to ward against the COVID-19 outbreak.

The league's general manager of football operations Steve Hocking said the arrangements prioritised the health and wellbeing of players and staff.

"This arrangement ensures we continue to support the health, wellbeing and motivation of non-selected players and allows clubs with the ability to provide non-selected players with match practice to ensure they are game-ready if required," Hocking said.

"It also provides clubs with flexibility to determine individual requirements while maintaining the health protocols in place for our game."

The arrangements for Rounds 2-5 for non-selected players will be as follows:

  • Clubs submit a match simulation request to the AFL at least one week prior to the scheduled date of the session.

  • Where possible, clubs will schedule their match simulation in line with the season fixture for Rounds 2-5.

  • To minimise risk, clubs will utilise AFL-approved venues.

  • AFL clubs to mutually determine the construct of the session (i.e. duration, player numbers).

  • For the first fixture block, match simulation will only be permitted with others located in their same state.

The AFL said its 'Return to Play' protocols would apply at all times and each session would have to be approved by the AFL, and closed to the public.