Cricketers are facing the possibility of a later than usual start to next season.
AFL Victoria and Cricket Victoria have reached an agreement that might see the 2020-21 cricket season starting a late as the fourth weekend of October.
The parent organisations on Friday announced arrangements for the availability of grounds if community-based football seasons extend past their traditional end dates in September owing the impact of COVID-19.
Junior football fixtures must finish by Sunday, October 11, and seniors by Sunday, October 18.
These deadlines will junior cricket to start from Friday, October 16, and seniors a week later.
AFL Victoria and Cricket Victoria, in a joint statement, said they had entered discussions understanding the impacts caused by COVID-19 and seeking to maximise the participation opportunities for football and cricket while also acknowledging the role that local government plays and the time required in transitioning grounds between football and cricket seasons.
Football will have priority use access to fixture competitions up to no later than:
- Senior and junior home and away football fixtures to conclude on or before Sunday, September 27.
- Junior finals (or lightning premierships) to conclude on or before Sunday, October 11.
- Senior finals fixtures to conclude on or before Sunday, October 18.
Cricket will have priority use access to fixture competitions from no earlier than the following (with play to start when safe to do so, including ensuring matches do not start until pitches are adequately prepared):
- Junior competitions from Friday, October 16.
- All senior competitions from Friday, October 23.
- Where community football competitions choose to not start their season or have completed their season by the end of September, cricket associations shall retain priority flexibility to schedule matches from October 1.
AFL Victoria and Cricket Victoria are encouraging football leagues and cricket associations to work together as soon as possible, along with their relevant municipal councils to identify grounds for football finals to help with football season and cricket season planning.
Cricket Victoria chief executive officer Andrew Ingleton thanked AFL Victoria for their collaboration.
"This delivers a fair outcome for both cricket and football to conduct our seasons as close to normal as we can in the current landscape.
"We understand our respective communities and our partners in state and local government are looking for clear direction on upcoming seasons and this agreement provides that.
"I'd like to thank AFL Victoria and our team at Cricket Victoria for their comprehensive work to deliver this," he said.
AFL Victoria head of community football Stephen O'Donohue said they were pleased to have reached the outcome for cricket and football, sports that meant so much to many people in communities across the state.
"We will continue to consult closely with the State Government and relevant medical authorities, and if a further easing of restrictions is to occur, we now have the flexibility that provides football leagues with an opportunity to hopefully get games away in the coming months," he said.