AFL will emerge from hiatus with 18 clubs: McLachlan

AFL CEO Gillon McLachlan is committed to the league retaining all of its 18 clubs in their current composition when the competition shutdown ends.

With the game suffering a catastrophic economic hit as a result of the coronavirus, forcing the AFL to secure a whopping $600 million line of credit from the banks, comprehensive cost-cutting has been a major focus.

This has led to widespread speculation about the ability of some debt-riddled clubs to survive the turmoil in their current form or whether mergers, relocations or, more ominously, going out of business altogether might occur for some of them.

But while McLachlan wouldn't offer a long-term view of how many AFL clubs there would be in years to come, or where they would be located, he was adamant about the short-term.

"We are going into this with 18 clubs and we'll come out with 18 clubs," he told SEN on Tuesday morning.

"That's our commitment over the next four, six, eight, 10 months, whatever it looks like, that we will have the same structure at the elite level.

"There's a whole lot of speculation going on about that and I'm not going to add to speculation," McLachlan said when asked if mergers or relocations could take place in the long run.

"It's not something I've thought about or buying into.

"Right now our task is to preserve our revenue streams, cut costs, raise liquidity, have a focus on the other side [of the shutdown] so when we can restart in June, July, August, September, whatever that period is, we start with the 18 teams in the locations they are, playing AFL football.

"We're dealing with the issues at hand, and doing that in the knowledge that hopefully our supporters and our members come out of this tough period going, 'I can't wait to go and watch my team'.

"I want them to know that's the total focus."


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