July 8, 2020 / 2:06 AM / a month ago

Soccer-Australia league in limbo as clubs' flight from Melbourne thwarted again

MELBOURNE, July 8 (Reuters) - The A-League’s hopes of resuming its season on July 16 remained in the balance on Wednesday after another failed attempt to get Melbourne-based clubs out of the city amid tightening COVID-19 restrictions.

Melbourne Victory, Melbourne City and Western United travelled to the airport on Tuesday for a second successive night hoping to reach a “hub” in New South Wales state to prepare for the top flight’s restart.

But the trip, which would have had them transit in Canberra, was aborted late in the evening due to government quarantine requirements in the Australian Capital Territory (ACT).

“We did absolutely everything we could to get the players and staff out of Victoria by midnight tonight, but in such a rapidly evolving situation, unfortunately it was just not possible,” Football Federation Australia Head of Leagues Greg O’Rourke said in a statement.

The teams had also tried to fly to Canberra on Monday but fog forced the closure of the airport in the Australian capital.

After a COVID-19 spike in Victoria’s capital Melbourne, the state’s border with NSW was closed for an indefinite period from midnight on Tuesday. For Melbourne residents the closure came 24 hours earlier.

Renewed lockdown measures in Melbourne kick in from midnight on Wednesday for at least six weeks, confining around 4.9 million people to their homes except for essential business.

The FFA has pinned its hopes on NSW authorities allowing the Melbourne teams exemptions to enter the state.

A Melbourne City spokesman told Reuters on Wednesday that a “provisional” exemption had been approved by NSW but they were waiting for final confirmation.

“It’s pretty disappointing what’s happened but from the clubs’ side, we’ve done everything that’s been asked of us,” he said. (Editing by Peter Rutherford)

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