Perth is set to become the centre of the AFL universe when big-ticket teams Collingwood and Geelong join locals West Coast and Fremantle in an AFL hub.
The AFL confirmed on Wednesday, when the round-six fixtures were released, that the Magpies and Cats will set up camp in Perth from round seven.
The league also revealed that at least two more teams will join the WA hub when Collingwood and Geelong depart after a three-week block of games at Optus Stadium.
Meanwhile, West Coast and Fremantle will spend a week longer than they had bargained for in the Gold Coast hub.
The Eagles will play Adelaide at the Gabba on Saturday, July 11, with the Dockers to take on Melbourne at Metricon Stadium on the same day.
Both WA clubs will then fly home, with the Magpies and Cats to join them in a 14-day isolation period.
Geelong will play St Kilda at Marvel Stadium on Thursday, July 9, in round six and Collingwood will host Brisbane the next evening at the MCG to allow the teams as much time as possible to get to Perth to begin their quarantine.
The AFL has received government permission for Collingwood to play Geelong and West Coast to face the Dockers in round seven while they remain in isolation.
The key point for the revenue-starved AFL is that those games can be played in front of large crowds, unlike in Victoria where complete supporter bans remain in place as the state grapples with a COVID-19 resurgence.
Perth firmed as a likely hub city on Monday when WA premier Mark McGowan announced restrictions on fans attending matches would be lifted entirely from July 18.
The return to a football scenario approaching normality means the AFL is likely to set up shop in WA for a while.
“We could get three (pairs) of teams through WA before we’d start to run out of teams that we can send over there,” AFL fixtures chief Travis Auld told Fox Footy.
“So we’ve got some runway and I think the Eagles and the Dockers deserve the opportunity to stay at home for some time.
“At this point we know we’ve got two (non-WA teams in the hub) and we’ll certainly have two more that we’ll need to have ready in a couple of weeks’ time to head across.
“How long that (hub) needs to go for depends on how long their borders are closed.
“We’ll just have to keep preparing.”
The Eagles and Dockers, who have been stationed in the league’s Gold Coast hub since the season restarted, had expected to return home after round five but will now remain in Queensland for an extra week.
But they did receive some good news this week when it was announced they would be allowed to isolate in their homes instead of at a hotel on their return to Western Australia.
The Crows and Port Adelaide played each other at Adelaide Oval in round two before going into the Gold Coast hub.
The Power will take on GWS at Metricon Stadium in round six in the early game on Sunday, July 12, with both SA cubs then free to fly home.
It is expected they will play in Melbourne in round seven before returning to Adelaide where they are likely to host a series of fly-in, fly-out opponents as border restrictions ease.
ROUND SIX OF THE AFL SEASON
Thursday, July 9
St Kilda v Geelong, Marvel Stadium, 7.40pm AEST
Friday, July 10
Collingwood v Brisbane, MCG, 7.50pm AEST
Saturday, July 11
Fremantle v Melbourne, Metricon Stadium, 1.05pm AEST
West Coast v Adelaide, Gabba, 3.35pm AEST
Essendon v Western Bulldogs, Marvel Stadium, 7.40pm AEST
Hawthorn v Gold Coast, MCG, 7.40pm AEST
Sunday, July 12
Port Adelaide v Greater Western Sydney, Metricon Stadium, 1.05pm AEST
Carlton v Sydney, MCG, 3.35pm AEST
North Melbourne v Richmond, Marvel Stadium, 6.10pm AEST