By Ian Ransom
MELBOURNE (Reuters) – The Australian government’s call for sacrifice and solidarity in the face of the coronavirus shutdown has gone unheeded in the country’s most popular sporting competition with Australian Rules footballers at loggerheads with officials over pay cuts.
The coronavirus outbreak, like it has done to the broader economy, has taken a wrecking ball to the nation’s professional sports, idling hundreds of players and staff in Australian Rules football, along with hundreds more in rugby league and soccer.
With no product to sell and no revenue coming in, leagues stand to lose tens of millions of dollars every week they remain suspended, raising warnings they could fold before long.
Austerity measures have already hit the Australian Football League (AFL), the top flight of Australian Rules, which shut down on Sunday after only one round of championship matches.
With the season suspended until at least the end of…