By Nick Creely
The Southern Football Netball League (SFNL) will officially welcome Hampton Park Football Netball Club into the competition as of 2018.
The Redbacks will join the SFNL after the state governing body approved a transfer from South East Football Netball League (SEFNL).
“It was a very thorough process. We asked a lot of questions of the clubs and had to come back to them several times,” SFNL General Manager – Operations David Jennings said.
“To their credit, (the) submissions were outstanding and we’re confident with where we have landed.
“The obligation of the Board is to weigh up the needs and wants of all existing member clubs to ensure any new club joining is in the best interest of the League.
“(Hampton Park) have demonstrated their commitment to the SFNL and we are confident that (they) will continue to add value to our football and netball community.”
The Redbacks have severely struggled for on-field success in recent years, with two winless seasons in 2016 and 2017 sealing their fate.
In a statement, Hampton Park FNC co-presidents Tim Ziegeler and Mick O’Brien expressed their thrill to be joining the Southern league, and are looking to bounce back after a lack of on-field success in the SEFNL.
“We are really pleased with the outcome and thank the SFNL board and football operations department for their assistance with our move to the SFNL,” they said.
“We are looking forward to becoming a productive member of the SFNL and seeing the club become competitive again.”
The SFNL has also announced a revamped competition structure for 2018, with the continual growth of the competition seeing the expansion of three divisions to four.
The move follows the acceptance of Hampton Park and Frankston Dolphins in to the competition for 2018, as well as Cerberus entering a team for the first time in several years.
There will be no local teams in Division 1, Keysborough and Doveton Eagles will compete in Division 2, Springvale Districts, Hallam, Endeavour Hills and Hampton Park will compete in Division 3, while Lyndale, Lyndhurst, Sandown and Dandenong make up part of the newly formed Division 4.
Jennings said the restructure was necessary to accommodate the growth of the League, as well as make the SFNL a more competitive, evenly matched competition.
“Moving to four divisions in 2018 is a significant shake up of the competition,” he said.
“As a League, we had to be diligent in weighing up the short and long-term benefits for both a club and as a collective.
“Our aim is to make the competition more even and to promote the opportunity for more clubs to play finals.
“By going to four divisions it will establish the best possible environment for clubs to be sustainable and competitive.”