The A-League has banned fans from games for the rest of the season in an attempt to contain the spread of coronavirus.
It had been speculated that the league would join the growing list of sports events being cancelled or indefinitely postponed due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
But now James Johnson, chief executive of Football Federation Australia (FFA), has revealed that the remaining six rounds of A-League matches will be rearranged into a reduced season of between three to four weeks, played behind closed doors.
Due to Australia’s travel ban, which requires people who have been abroad to self-isolate for 14 days, New Zealand-based club Wellington Phoenix have agreed to stay in Australia, so the season can continue.
FFA added that the title-deciding grand final match in the women’s W-League competition, scheduled for this weekend, would also be played behind closed doors.
FFA chief executive officer James Johnson told reporters in Sydney on Monday the game was facing an “unprecedented challenge” and further measures may be enacted in the future as the situation developed.
“This is an unprecedented time and extremely complex for the sport and also the society at large,” Johnson said.
“We anticipate further decisions, as the days and weeks go on, because we really don’t know how this virus will evolve.”
All lower-level soccer leagues in Australia, such as the NPL and under-age competitions, were permitted to continue without spectators and with enhanced hygiene protocols.
“If you are not essential to the parti-cipation, please stay at home,” Johnson said.
“As a sport, football wants to be a good citizen and wants to play its part in helping the community during this difficult period.”