WAFL legend fears for comp’s future
WA Football Hall of Famer Percy Johnson has concerns over the WAFL’s ability to rebound from a truncated season, which won’t begin until May 31st at the earliest after the AFL confirmed the postponement of all state leagues on Monday due to the threat of COVID-19.
The WAFL, VFL, SANFL and NEAFL men’s and women’s competitions will all face delayed starts in 2020, as the coronavirus continues to cause uncertainty and panic not only in Australia but around the world.
Johnson, a premiership player with East Fremantle in 1957 and still actively coaching at both Swan Districts and Claremont to this day, has grave fears for certain clubs amid financial uncertainty.
“It’s a mighty big setback to WAFL clubs, particularly say West Perth Football Club. They’re doing their absolute best to get back on their feet.” the 87-year-old told Sports Drive on Monday.
“Also East Fremantle, financially they’re a club that’s been reported to be struggling quite considerably,”
“They (WAFL clubs) have contracts to players, coaches and sponsors, I dare say with business being affected dramatically the sponsors will be affected themselves,”
“This really could be a destruction to Western Australian footy if the WAFL fell over to some extent, particularly with some of these clubs struggling.”
Two months of the season will at least be lost to due to the virus, which was declared a global pandemic last week.
Johnson also said he had doubts on the AFL season starting this Thursday night, with a decision to made on the commencement of the shortened 17 round season to be made on Tuesday.
“I really can’t see the AFL season going ahead.” Johnson said.
“This decision has been made with people associated through the AFL and the WAFL, I think you’ll find that the AFL competition will be stalled until the start of June also.”
On top of the WAFL and WAFLW postponements, the WA State 16’s and 18’s will also be delayed, with the respective carnivals unlikely to proceed.
Johnson called on the AFL to come to the aid of state-based clubs to make sure they survive.
“It’s absolutely imperative that this competition, which is going to struggle financially now or many of the clubs are, the AFL has to look after these clubs to make sure they survive this crisis.” He said.
“Even if that takes the AFL to the limit of it’s financial resources, I’m sure they will be realistic about that.”
The WAFL released a statement on Monday afternoon, pledging to guide and support the clubs through this ‘extremely challenging’ period.
IMAGE: The West Australian.