Collingwood will kick off its 2020 AFL campaign against the Western Bulldogs at Marvel Stadium next Friday night but not before a crowd.

Due the increasing threat to public health of the COVID-19 virus, the AFL tonight announced that all AFL and AFLW matches will, for the foreseeable future, be played without members and fans attending.

Collingwood chief executive officer, Mark Anderson, described the decision as a disappointing but necessary outcome.

“The health of our fans, players, coaches, staff and our communities at large must be the first priority and the AFL’s decision rightly reflects this,” Anderson said.

“It will be tough for our members and fans not to be able to attend matches, and eerie for our athletes to play to empty stadiums, but taking steps to minimize the already serious threat to public health must be everyone’s priority.”

Anderson knows that Collingwood fans will continue to support the club in the manner they have over its rich history.

“Our fans and members are passionate and whilst they won’t be able to cheer our AFL and AFLW teams on from the stands in the short term we know they will stick with the club and keep showing their support in other ways.

“We all look forward to the day when they can pour back through the gates of the ‘G.”

The club will keep its members and fans updated throughout this unprecedented period in the game’s history.