The Professional Footballers Australia (PFA) has demanded Central Coast Mariners immediately reinstate players after they were issued with stand-down notices amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Last week, the PFA threatened to initiate legal proceedings against Perth Glory owner Tony Sage following his decision to stand down players, with the A-League season on hiatus due to COVID-19.

The Mariners also issued stand-down notices as the league's postponement impacts clubs financially, prompting the PFA to serve Central Coast owner Mike Charlesworth with a letter of demand.

"These actions undermine attempts for our game to overcome common challenges, fight for common interests and re-establish our sport," PFA chief executive John Didulica said in a statement on Tuesday.

"While other codes have fostered unity and demonstrated leadership amid crisis, we are at risk of regressing to the lowest common denominator.

"FFA has indicated an intention to intervene as this matter escalates. 

"This morning, we have written to FFA to ask they follow the lead of other sporting codes in this country and lead a collective and uniform solution to our common challenge."

Football Federation Australia (FFA) has already stood down approximately 70 per cent of its staff in a bid to save money amid the coronavirus crisis.

Coronavirus has claimed more than 37,500 lives globally, with over 781,800 confirmed cases.

In Australia, there have been at least 18 deaths and more than 4,350 cases.

 

Football Federation Australia (FFA) chief executive James Johnson defended the timing of the A-League season suspension despite two positive coronavirus cases this week.

The A-League was the last competition standing in Australia, suspending its season on Tuesday due to the coronavirus pandemic.

But it was confirmed on Saturday that a Newcastle Jets player and Wellington Phoenix staff member had tested positive for COVID-19.

Johnson said the A-League was stopped at the right time, despite the two cases that followed just days later.

"When you follow a decision-making process that is evidence-based and which is highly consultative, I always think you get really close to the right decision," he told Fox Sports on Sunday.

"This decision to close the A-League, or to suspend the A-League, was made with the unanimous support of all the A-League clubs and was made in close consultation with the players' union on behalf of the players. We did have a very unified decision and we had unity in the sport which we've not really seen for a long time.

"I think the timing to close the league, to suspend the league, was right, I think we arrived at the right time.

"Unfortunately, since we closed the league, there have been a couple of cases now of the virus, we've been informed by both Newcastle and Wellington of those cases, the league is taking all necessary steps in line with the government guidelines. They're currently trying to understand better the details around who the players were mixing with and how they could've contracted the virus. This is going on at the moment.

"What we're trying to do at FFA is we're trying to ensure that both the player and also the administrator that have contracted the virus have all the support that they need during these difficult times."

The Wellington Phoenix confirmed a member of their football operations staff had tested positive for coronavirus.

The positive test comes on the same day the Newcastle Jets confirmed one of their players had contracted COVID-19.

In a statement on Saturday, the A-League club said: "The Wellington Phoenix advise that a member of the club's football operations staff has tested positive for COVID-19.

"The club is cooperating fully with all the relevant health authorities and is focused on supporting staff, as well as ensuring that all government protocols are being closely adhered to.

"As per Ministry of Health instructions, all players and staff who had direct contact with the staff member are being monitored for possible signs of infection – any person showing symptoms consistent with COVID-19 will immediately be tested.

"The club will continue to monitor the situation closely and won't be making any further statement at this time."

The Phoenix had committed to staying in Australia in a bid to try to finish the A-League season, which was eventually suspended on Tuesday.

The Newcastle Jets confirmed one of their players had tested positive for coronavirus.

The Jets were in A-League action on Monday in what proved to be the final game before the season was suspended due to the pandemic.

In a statement on Saturday, Newcastle confirmed a player had tested positive for COVID-19, but was feeling fine.

"Newcastle Jets can confirm that a player in its Hyundai A-League squad has returned a positive test for COVID-19," a statement read.

"In accordance with relevant protocols, NSW Health has been notified of the case by the club and the correct procedures have been followed throughout.

"The player and his family are in good health, and currently in quarantine in accordance with NSW Health protocols.

"The health and wellbeing of our players, officials, and the wider community remains our highest priority in this difficult time.

"As per advice from NSW Health, our playing squad are closely monitoring their health and will isolate themselves if they experience any symptoms.

"All players and staff beyond the player have been checked for their risks and will be overseen, and guided, by the team medical staff as they liaise directly with the Public Health Unit. Self-isolation has been commenced for those that require it."

There have been more than 597,000 coronavirus cases worldwide, with the death toll climbing above 27,300.

Australia has seen more than 3,570 cases, including 14 deaths.

The Professional Footballers Australia (PFA) has demanded Perth Glory reinstate players said to have been issued with stand-down notices amid the coronavirus pandemic.

In a statement on Saturday, the PFA threatened to initiate legal proceedings against Glory owner Tony Sage.

The PFA said it had "been provided with stand-down notices issued to its members at Perth Glory" by Sage.

"The players acknowledge that everybody in Australia is facing a collective challenge as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic," PFA chief executive John Didulica said.

"In times like this, our community needs leadership and, from the perspective of football, a commitment to collaboratively rebuilding our sport.

"The PFA continues to call for a collective solution to address our game's challenges, as has been the approach adopted by the AFL and sporting bodies around the world. However, Tony has shown his preference for unilateral, reckless and unlawful action.

"A fortnight ago, it was fine to relocate players to the east coast away from their families and expose them to a global pandemic. Now, when the opportunity arises, it is considered acceptable to stop paying them. These are not the traits of a sport that values its people.

"We are positioned to take the same course of action if any other A-League club owner elects to take this course of action in contravention of both the law and the sports broader needs at this time."

Perth Glory decided against commenting when contacted by Stats Perform.

Football Federation Australia (FFA) has stood down approximately 70 per cent of its staff in a bid to save money amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The coronavirus has brought sport to a standstill around the world, with the A-League season having been suspended on Tuesday.

FFA announced on Friday it was standing down most of its staff due to the financial impact of coronavirus.

"This has been an extremely difficult decision to make, but necessary to stabilise the organisation so that it can continue to service the game, albeit in a vastly different landscape," FFA chief executive James Johnson said in a statement.

"Industries all over the world have been severely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic and football in Australia is no different.

"We are in a situation where grassroots football and the Hyundai A-League are currently suspended, we've had the postponement of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and the deferral of the international football calendar, so virtually all football activity has now ceased for the foreseeable future because of COVID-19.

"These developments impact many forms of revenue for FFA, including national registration fees, broadcast fees, sponsorship, ticket sales and government funding, so we have needed to adjust our operations to ensure that we can remain operational, forcing us to take the unfortunate decision to stand down approximately 70 per cent of our workforce.

"We have an incredible team here at FFA, and I am immensely proud of the work everyone does for football in this country. We have explored ways to retain as many staff as possible, including reducing essential roles to part-time, and asking staff to take annual leave and long service leave. Unfortunately, a number of staff members will have a period of leave without pay.

"We will continue to operate with a small team, with a focus on continual engagement with fans through digital platforms, supporting our member federations, clubs and the almost two million football participants in this country.

"I also believe that football has a very important role to play as a good and responsible citizen during these difficult times so we are looking at how we can contribute to our collective efforts to slow down the spread of COVID-19.

"We view this as a temporary stoppage of football. We will be continually reviewing the situation and the impact of COVID-19 on grassroots football and the remainder of the Hyundai A-League season. We need a strong national governing body in place and a team ready and able to get back to work as soon as possible, as football will play an essential role in the recovery of our nation post COVID-19."

There have been more than 531,000 coronavirus cases worldwide, with over 24,000 deaths.

Australia has seen more than 3,000 cases, including 13 deaths.

Football Federation Australia (FFA) is investigating after media reports alleged Wellington Phoenix players drunkenly stole a golf cart when they were supposed to be on lockdown in Sydney amid the coronavirus pandemic.

It is claimed two Phoenix players were stopped by police during the early hours of Tuesday morning when spotted driving the cart on a commonly used Sydney road.

One of the players is reported to have been arrested.

Phoenix had been based at an academy in Sydney to avoid quarantine measures upon returning to New Zealand, thus allowing them to play the remaining weeks of the A-League season, but following the competition's suspension on Monday, they returned home the following day.

FFA confirmed knowledge of the reports on Wednesday and insisted it is looking into the allegations, though the identities of the players involved were not revealed.

A statement read: "Football Federation Australia (FFA) has been made aware of a report regarding two Wellington Phoenix players.

"FFA is investigating the matter, which is being taken very seriously.  If any misconduct is found to have occurred, FFA will be swift in taking action under the FFA National Code of Conduct.

"FFA is not in a position to comment further at this time."

The A-League is on hiatus indefinitely, though a further formal status assessment is scheduled to take place on April 22.

Football Federation Australia (FFA) has announced that the final rounds of the 2019-20 A-League season have been postponed due to coronavirus.

The A-League had initially gone behind closed doors amid the COVID-19 pandemic, with New Zealand-based side Wellington Phoenix remaining in Australia to complete the regular-season matches prior to the finals.

Monday's clash between Newcastle Jets and Melbourne City went ahead without fans at McDonald Jones Stadium.

However, with Australia introducing strict travel conditions and states shutting down non-essential services, the A-League has followed the NRL and AFL in stopping the season.

The FFA – which hopes to reschedule games to complete the campaign – will review the situation over the coming weeks, with a further formal status assessment scheduled for April 22.

"Our priority is to ensure the safety of both the football community and the community at large," FFA chief executive James Johnson said in a statement on Tuesday.

"As each passing day raises additional concerns for the safety of both, it is imperative that we follow the lead of Governments at National and State level and take the necessary precautionary and proactive measures and in doing so play our part in preventing the spread and impact of COVID-19.

"To get so close to completing the competition, only to pull up a few weeks short, has been heartbreaking for the players, clubs and fans. That said, the health and safety of our fans, players, volunteers and staff has always been the overriding consideration for us.

"That is fundamentally what led – with the unanimous support of the State and Territory Member Federations – to the suspension of grassroots football until 14 April 2020. Today's decision was equally difficult to make but it is borne from the same rationale.

"As the largest club-based participation sport with nearly two million participants, we have a clear and obvious duty to play our part in doing whatever we can to support the efforts to slow down the spread of COVID-19.

"On behalf of FFA Board and each Hyundai A-League Club, we thank the players for their assistance during these extraordinary times. We have done everything in our power to ensure the physical and mental welfare of the players and club staff and this decision means that, like the majority of Australians, they can now return home to be with their families during this difficult time.

"We'd like to thank our members, sponsors, volunteers and fans for their continued support during this unprecedented time."

Melbourne City failed to seal a Finals berth ahead of the potential suspension of the A-League season as they lost 2-1 at Newcastle Jets on Monday.

Football Federation Australia has called a news conference for Tuesday as a pause in the 2019-20 campaign seems inevitable amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The postponement of Perth Glory's meeting with Western United made this McDonald Jones Stadium clash the last before the anticipated announcement, and second-placed City could not claim the victory required to clinch a post-season place.

Early openings were few and far between, but the Jets built up a head of steam heading into half-time, and Nick Fitzgerald - wasteful with a tame prior effort - broke the deadlock in style.

The former City winger controlled on the right corner of the penalty area, cut inside two backtracking defenders and placed a finish inside the left-hand upright.

The visitors controlled the second half, though, and substitute Florin Berenguer guided a header into the net - a belated first effort on target - for the leveller 19 minutes from time.

Yet back came Newcastle through Steven Ugarkovic, whose 25-yard strike beat Tom Glover's weak left hand to find the top-left corner and restore a decisive lead.

The NRL reaffirmed its commitment to continuing the 2020 season despite the coronavirus emergency, while Football Federation Australia (FFA) is prepared to make a "hard" decision over the A-League.

New South Wales and Victoria are among states in Australia planning to shut down non-essential services and travel over the next 48 hours amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Australian Football League (AFL) – a popular sport in Australia – postponed its season on Sunday, following just one round of action behind closed doors.

But the NRL, which has started playing without fans in round two, does not intend on following in the footsteps of the AFL.

Australian Rugby League Commission (ARLC) chairman Peter V'landys said, "it was the Commission's intention to proceed with the competition until there is advice from government to shut down matches".

While coronavirus disrupts sport around the world, the A-League has also continued playing, albeit behind closed doors.

The FFA released a statement, with the country's football governing body set to provide a further update on Monday.

"The health and wellbeing of the players continues to remain our top priority and we will not be afraid to make decisions to ensure this, no matter how hard they might be," said FFA CEO James Johnson.

"We were very comfortable to take the initial decision to allow the Leagues to continue with additional measures in place and have worked through a number of scenarios to facilitate the completion of the A-League season. However, we remain under no illusions as to how fluid this situation is so we will remain agile and responsive to the challenges this pandemic brings. 

"We are continuously assessing our position based on the latest directives and advice from the Government and Chief Medical Officer, and in consultation with our National COVID-19 Working Committee.

"We are taking every precaution in line with Government advice and working closely with the League and clubs which have implemented additional measures to ensure players remain healthy and in good physical and mental condition.  Our priority is to ensure that this remains the case to give the clubs and players the best chance of achieving their sporting aspirations."

Globally, more than 13,000 people have died from at least 308,000 cases.

In Australia, there have been over 1,200 cases and at least seven deaths.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison does not believe a new travel ban will force the NRL and A-League seasons to end amid the coronavirus pandemic.

While COVID-19 disrupts sport across the globe, Australia's professional rugby league and football competitions have continued, albeit behind closed doors.

However, Australia's announcement against non-essential travel has thrown the NRL and A-League into fresh doubt, with Victoria and New South Wales reportedly among states set to close their borders within 48 hours.

Morrison, though, told a news conference on Sunday: "I would say not. It's not the end of sport.

"We will work closely with them about those arrangements. In terms of the NRL and the AFL [Australian Football League] and those types of arrangements, I think the principle is important.

"I'm sure we can work with both of those agencies with their respective states and CMOs [chief medical officers] at a federal level.

"If there are new arrangements that need to be put in place to protect the health and safety of everyone they may be possible but I'm not going to pre-empt those outcomes, but I'm sure we can work those issues through on a practical case by case basis."

In response to Morrison's announcement, Australian Rugby League Commission (ARLC) chairman Peter V'landys told Triple M: "We are prepared for the worst, and we have looked at every contingency. We're ready for whatever they throw at us.

"We've got a four-week window that we can work with during State of Origin. There is a bye round and a [split] round, and we can always extend the season. It just really depends when we have to pull the lever to suspend the season. The longer we can go the better it is."

Globally, more than 13,000 people have died from at least 308,000 cases.

In Australia, there have been over 1,200 cases and at least seven deaths.

Western Sydney Wanderers continued their excellent recent derby record as Kwame Yeboah's late goal gave them a deserved 1-1 draw against Sydney FC at Bankwest Stadium.

Sydney have dominated the A-League this season and are eight points clear of second-place Melbourne City with two games in hand.

However, their only two defeats of the campaign came courtesy of 1-0 reverses against the Wanderers, who played behind-closed-doors hosts on Saturday.

Adam Le Fondre applauded and bowed to the deserted stands when he put the Sky Blues in front after 35 minutes – reacting quickest when Daniel Lopar parried Kosta Barbarouses' effort to net a 17th goal this term.

But Western Sydney responded impressively, dominating the second half and earning the fortune that came their way eight minutes from time.

Yeboah did not appear to know much about Simon Cox's shot when the ball struck him and spun beyond a helpless Andrew Redmayne in the Sydney goal.

The Wanderers lie eighth and retain post-season ambitions as they sit a point behind sixth-place Western United, having played a game more.

Jamie Maclaren was the hat-trick hero as Melbourne City piled further misery on the Central Coast Mariners in the A-League with a 4-2 triumph.

The Mariners went down to a 10th consecutive defeat despite Jordan Murray catching the City backline napping to give them a second-minute lead.

The hosts' joy was short-lived as Maclaren arrowed a swift response across Central Coast goalkeeper Mark Birighitti and Markel Susaeta headed City in front inside 10 minutes.

Maclaren crowned a wonderful team move three minutes into the second half before claiming the matchball when Nathaniel Atkinson's blocked shot spun in his direction – a goal that restored City's two-goal advantage after a towering header earned Murray his second of the match.

City, who were playing without Erick Mombaerts - their 64-year-old head coach who stayed home as a precaution against contracting coronavirus, are seven points behind Sydney FC in second but have played three games more than the leaders.

Brisbane Roar are five points further back in fourth after Scott McDonald's splendid 16th-minute finish proved enough to see off Newcastle Jets 1-0.

It meant a first defeat as Jets boss for Carl Robinson – a fate that was almost averted in stoppage time when Roy O'Donovan volleyed Dimitrios Petratos' searching cross from the left against the post.

Wellington Phoenix confirmed they would fly to Sydney on Wednesday to complete the A-League season after reaching an agreement to train while in self-isolation.

Football Federation Australia (FFA) officials are planning for the rest of the A-League campaign to go ahead behind closed doors due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Wellington must self-isolate for 14 days when they arrive due to travel measures put in place by the Australian government.

The club confirmed on Tuesday they would leave for Sydney after reaching "an agreement with Australian state-based health officials to be able to train within the self-isolation window".

"The decision to travel to Sydney in an attempt to complete this season was made as a club," Phoenix general manager David Dome said in a statement.

"We have discussed this amongst ourselves, consulted with health professionals and government bodies in Australia and New Zealand and taken all possible precautions to ensure those travelling are given the best protection possible.

"We are also conscious that the situation is constantly evolving and it may all change again tomorrow, but we are making this decision with the best information we have available at this time.

"As things have continued to evolve rapidly over the past few days, all options have been investigated and it became apparent that suspension of the Hyundai A-League was never an option."

All players and coaching staff have decided to travel to Australia on Wednesday, the club said.

Wellington are set to play the rest of their A-League games in Australia, beginning with a clash against Adelaide United on April 5.

Football Federation Australia (FFA) announced that the remainder of the A-League season will go ahead but behind closed doors, while Wellington Phoenix will play all their matches in Australia.

The future of the 2019-20 campaign has been in doubt since Australia and New Zealand introduced strict travel conditions amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Travellers to Australia and New Zealand must self-isolate for a 14-day period due to concerns over COVID-19, however, the A-League will continue for the remaining six regular-season rounds but without fans.

Victory travelled to Wellington to face the Phoenix on Sunday, which means round 24 and 25 fixtures involving the two teams will be rescheduled as they self-isolate.

The upcoming W-League Grand Final will also take place but behind closed doors.

"The scale of football means that we have a key role to play in maintaining the health and wellbeing of Australians, as well as their families and the wider community," said FFA CEO James Johnson, with Australia's football governing body to review the situation for the upcoming finals series.

"We are doing so by allowing people to play, in line with the current government position but with additional guidance to further improve social distancing at football fields around the country.

"We have been working closely with our stakeholders, government health officials and our own chief medical officer to develop our policies for the whole of the game following the COVID-19 outbreak. The situation is subject to constant change, and further measures may be necessary in the future.

"The decision to play the remainder of the Hyundai A-League 2019-20 season, and the Westfield W-League 2020 Grand Final behind closed doors was made in consultation with the clubs and in accordance with the latest federal government advice.

"The health and safety of all members of the football community, including players, coaches, referees, volunteers, administrators and fans continues to be of paramount importance. We will continue to work with the government and seek advice as the situation changes."

We confirm that grassroots football, including all levels of the @NPLAustralia and @FFACup Preliminary Rounds, may continue to be played at this time in line with Government advice.

— Football Federation Australia (@FFA) March 15, 2020

In the A-League, Sydney FC top the table by 10 points, ahead of Melbourne City, with the Phoenix third.

Five people have died from more than 299 coronavirus cases in Australia.

Globally, there have been over 169,000 cases with more than 6,400 casualties.

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