Sydney FC were set to begin their campaign against Melbourne City in a grand final replay at Netstrata Jubilee Stadium on December 30, before trips to face Brisbane Roar on January 10 and Melbourne Victory on January 26.
Those fixtures are under a cloud after Queensland and Victorian shut their borders to travellers from Greater Sydney. Victorian Premier Dan Andrews also announced the state would close to anyone from the NSW Central Coast.
The Sky Blues yesterday made the call to have players Calem Nieuwenhof, Harry Van der Saag, Patrick Wood, Levi Kaye and head coach Steve Corica, who all live in the northern beaches, remain in city hotels after returning from Qatar, where they completed their AFC Champions League fixtures, earlier this month. The rest of the squad has completed their 14-day isolation stint and were able to return home.
“We are closely tracking and reviewing Government guidance, and building our plans to ensure that we have the flexibility to respond dynamically to any guidance changes,” O’Rourke said. “The safety, health and wellbeing of our players, fans and staff is our ultimate priority.”
Melbourne Victory’s players come out of quarantine in Sydney on Tuesday following their return from Doha, but the club remains uncertain if they will be allowed to travel back to Victoria without needing to do a second 14-day quarantine.
The Victory have been in talks with authorities since last week to make sure their players can leave their hotels and travel home despite the newly imposed hard border with Greater Sydney.
If they are forced into a new quarantine, the Victory would likely need their opening round clash with Brisbane Roar postponed or delayed as they are due to play at AAMI Park on January 2.
Sydney FC boss Danny Townsend said the league will likely wait to see what the situation looks like after the northern beaches lockdown ends on Wednesday.
“Just from a public perspective, I think this is going to be the way it will be until we get a vaccine,” he said. “Everyone in the world has had to get used to this level of flexibility.”
with Roy Ward