By sports editor Russell Bennett
The Casey Demons have withdrawn from this year’s upcoming VFL season, due to the spike in Victorian Covid-19 cases.
In a statement released on the Melbourne Football Club website, general manager of football Josh Mahoney said the increased number of confirmed cases in Victoria – along with the government’s Covid-19 restrictions currently in place – had contributed to the decision to pull the pin from this year’s VFL season.
“Following advice from club medical experts, due to the risk of transmission and our own risk assessment, we have decided this was the best option for the club,” Mahoney said.
“Whilst we were originally comfortable running the program under the VFL protocols and the introduction of our own, the increase in community cases across Victoria has contributed to this decision.”
Mahoney said the club explored all options for the Demons to field a VFL side this year, adding: “The club has worked long and hard to give ourselves every chance to participate this season and I thank our staff for that work and our players for their positive attitude.
“The VFL and the other seven clubs have worked diligently and collaboratively in supporting each other throughout this process. We’d like to thank them for their support.
“We are disappointed for our players, coaches and staff. They were excited to begin training and the possibility of getting a season underway, but they fully respect the club’s decision.”
The VFL has since announced that Box Hill, Coburg, Frankston, Port Melbourne, Sandringham, Werribee, and Williamstown will all return to full-contact training from 13 July, with Round 1 of the VFL season to start on 1 August.
“The health and safety of everyone involved in the VFL competition and the wider community remains paramount and we will continue to be led by the State Government and relevant medical officials,” the AFL’s head of talent pathways and state league competitions, Tristan Salter, said.
“We acknowledge and understand the difficult decision (the) Casey Demons have taken today and we will continue to help and support all VFL clubs as we prepare for a VFL season that prioritises the safety of everyone involved.”
According to the figures released by the Victorian State Government’s Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) on the day of the announcement of the Demons’ VFL withdrawal for 2020, there were 16 active Covid-19 cases in the City of Casey, one in the City of Greater Dandenong, and none in the Cardinia shire.