By Hayley Wildes
“The board put it towards the clubs to get some feedback on what they thought about the potential of having six clubs come in and basically they were all pretty unanimous in saying no.”
Operations manager of the Ellinbank & District Football League (EDFL) Ken Moore put it simply when asked why the league recently rejected the application of all six Alberton Football Netball League (AFNL) clubs to join the EDFL in 2020.
“There were a number of varied reasons, but the main reason was that we’ve had something like five changes to the structure of the league in about seven years and the clubs are just getting frustrated with how unsettling that’s been,” Moore continued.
“Furthermore, geographically we don’t believe that a lot of those teams are compatible with our league – they’re more compatible with Mid Gippsland.
“A lot of our clubs expressed their dissatisfaction with the extra travel that would be required and they felt their ability to attract players would be diminished because players aren’t going to want to travel.”
Moore also highlighted a number of issues that would arise in the junior competitions as another reason for their decision, as well as the administration and competition standard issues with having a 16-team league.
The impending disbanding of the AFNL has left Fish Creek, Foster, Meeniyan Dumbalk United, Stony Creek, Tarwin and Toora without a league for the 2020 season and while Moore expressed sadness in seeing a storied league such the AFNL unable to stay afloat, he was adamant that accepting all six clubs wouldn’t be a positive for the EDFL.
“There’s just more negatives than positives from a club perspective – when you look at the reasons why, it’s pretty overwhelming,” he said.
“We gave [EDFL] clubs the chance to put their two bobs in and if it was five-all or a few of the clubs wanted change, the board would’ve considered the application, but the mere fact is that they’ve unanimously said we don’t want change.”
The process from here is murky.
What’s known is that all six AFNL clubs have the right to appeal the EDFL’s decision and must do so by the end of this week, with any appeals to be considered by the AFL Gippsland Commission within 21 days.
“When the [AFNL clubs] likely appeal – which is within their rights – the decision will be out of our hands; the decision will be back with AFL Vic to make a determination and we were told that the AFL Victoria Country handbook rules override our constitution.” Moore said.
Asked if he knows whether the EDFL has the right to appeal any decision made by AFL Victoria or AFL Gippsland, Moore was unsure.
“I don’t know,” he said.
“It’s unprecedented, we’ve never had that scenario and we haven’t really thought through that yet.”
Watch this space – there’s still plenty to play out in this one.