Extra workload on country footy club volunteers has been lifted on the eve of the season with the Victorian government agreeing to increase spectator caps to 5000 people.
The much sought after changes were confirmed late Monday and follow widespread condemnation of the requirement to complete lengthy submissions to lift crowd sizes beyond 1000 people at Victorian venues.
Government health officials now consider football-netball matches with a crowd of up to 5000 people a "low risk" event.
But clubs must still lodge a COVIDSafe event plan, albeit less onerous than the previous requirement which could have taken up to six weeks to get approval for.
"Football-netball clubs across Victoria can now plan for matches to be played with up to 5000 people in attendance, without seeking formal approval," a government spokesperson said.
"This change reflects the current public health conditions in Victoria and the assessment that football-netball match-days are low-risk events."
Events which have more than 5000 attendees still require an approved COVIDSafe event plan to be completed, as well as sign-off by the Victorian Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton and the major events taskforce.
This will be a requirement for finals matches later in the year.
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The Ovens and Murray Football-Netball League was going to be one of the most impacted competitions if changes weren't made by the government.
NSW-based clubs could host matches for up to 3000 people with government approval.
"We're pleased that commonsense has prevailed and crowd capping is at a more realistic number with a less onerous application process," O and M chairman David Sinclair said.
"Clubs can now concentrate on getting their clubs ready for what will be one of the most anticipated seasons in the league's history."
AFL North-East Border Commission chairman John Byrne agreed after the entire 2020 season was wiped out due to COVID-19 last year.
"It is a great commonsense decision," he said.
"We all thought it was the wrong approach by the government, but to their credit they have listened.
"I would like to thank the two state politicians in our area, Tim McCurdy and Bill Tilley, for their work and also AFL Victoria and the media.
"It just takes that extra burden and pressure off club officials.
"We've all got clear air for the start of the season we are all looking forward to after last year.
"We all missed it so much, but the people I talk to can't wait for it to start."
The further changes come after a relaxation on some of the AFL Victoria return to play and train protocols released last week.
The 2021 O and M season starts in less than two weeks.
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