Sat, 08 Aug 2020

Australia's premier football league was finally set to resume competition after its three Melbourne teams were Thursday cleared to leave virus-plagued Victoria state to play the delayed season in neighbouring New South Wales.

The Football Federal of Australia announced late Thursday that New South Wales had granted an exemption to players and coaches from Melbourne City, Melbourne Victory and Western United to travel to Sydney despite a border closure with Victoria.

The three teams will be required to undergo 14 days of quarantine in Sydney, but would be able to train during that period.

A-League officials expressed optimism that the season, suspended in March due to the coronavirus pandemic, would be able to resume on July 16 as planned, though there would need to be adjustments to the 27-game schedule.

The Victoria-New South Wales border was closed at midnight Tuesday after a spike in Covid-19 cases in Melbourne.

The three Melbourne teams had tried to fly out of Melbourne Monday, but were grounded by fog and then caught by the closure.

Players then balked at the prospect of being quarantined away from their families for two weeks if allowed to travel to NSW despite the closure.

But FFA CEO James Johnson said the teams and their families had "been flexible and done everything possible, with much sacrifice, to ensure they are able to complete the season."

"Now that we have certainty that all our clubs will be ready for the restart, we will look to modify our match schedule accordingly to give all teams the opportunity to perform at their best," he said in a statement.

He said the Melbourne teams would depart for Sydney "as soon as possible."

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