Triple-premiership powerhouse Richmond appear set to move to a hub in Perth, setting up a showpiece Dreamtime match with Essendon at Optus Stadium next Saturday night.
The West Australian understands the Tigers have been told to be prepared to fly directly to Perth following their match against Adelaide this weekend, which is likely to be played at Giants Stadium on Sunday.
The Bombers are already in Perth ahead of Saturday night’s game against Fremantle and could remain there for several weeks.
Premier Mark McGowan has confirmed all 29 Essendon players who travelled to Perth yesterday to escape Victoria’s escalating COVID-19 outbreak ahead of Sunday’s clash with West Coast have returned negative tests.
The news means the Eagles’ round 11 fixture at Optus Stadium against the Bombers on Saturday night will proceed without impacting a potential full capacity crowd against the Dons.
The Bombers touched down early in Perth Wednesday afternoon preparing to spend five days in WA after Victoria reported 10 new local cases on Tuesday, all connected to the City of Whittlesea outbreak.
It comes as thousands more footy fans potentially exposed to COVID-19 were forced into isolation and the number of exposure sites continues to grow.
Optus Stadium is free next Saturday and is understood to be the AFL’s preferred venue for another transplanted Dreamtime blockbuster, after it was held in Darwin last year.
Richmond would require a special clearance from the State Government to come to Perth after the border to Victoria was closed.
The Tigers could then remain in Perth after facing Essendon, with the scheduled round 14 blockbuster against West Coast a possibility of being brought forward to round 13, when both clubs have a bye.
The COVID-19 chaos remains a highly fluid situation. Essendon coach Ben Rutten said the Bombers were yet to be told what they would do after playing the Dockers this weekend.