The AFL has tonight announced that Round 1 will begin as planned, with the Saints to take on North Melbourne on Sunday at an empty Marvel Stadium.

The decision follows an AFL Commission meeting today and industry-wide consultation over the past 48 hours.

Quarters will be shortened in the new 17-round AFL season to provide flexibility in how often teams can play. 

The new-look Saints will take to Marvel Stadium at 1.10pm on Sunday, with multiple new faces in line for their debuts in red, white and black.

Leading the charge are St Kilda's five big-name recruits – Bradley Hill, Zak Jones, Dougal Howard, Dan Butler and Paddy Ryder – while exciting youngster Max King is pressing his case to fulfil his childhood dream.

The AFL also announced that the AFLW season would immediately proceed to finals, drawing a close to the Saints’ debut season after six rounds.

The club is still working hard to understand the impact of the different scenarios that might play out and will continue to keep our partners, key supporters and members updated.