By Nick Creely
The AFL Outer East has confirmed a start date for senior football and netball, as well as under 19s, with Saturday 7 August locked in for a return.
The home-and-away season will now extend for a week, with fixtures pushed back. Games that were scheduled for 31 July will now be played on 7 August with each subsequent round to follow.
This return round will be played without crowds with the hope that they will be permitted the following week.
The competition informed clubs of the decision following a meeting last night and after being in strong consultation with clubs, have based the decision on a number of factors, with the league committing to completing the 2021 season without a hitch, and for each club to play each other at least once during the home-and-away season.
While resuming the season this weekend was a strong possibility, challenges in playing under heavy restrictions, providing a strong block of training, and helping clubs with financial strain of missing home games were taken into consideration.
The Premier Division home-and-away season will now finish on Saturday 4 September, Division 1 on Saturday 28 August, and Division 2 on Saturday 21 August.
Senior finals have also been confirmed to be shortened with a priority on maximising participation and club sustainability.
The finals series will now be a three week, top-six system, with Premier Division finals to begin on Saturday 11 September, Division 1 on Sunday 5 September, and Division 2 on Saturday 28 August.
Grand final dates remain unchanged.
Outer East has also stated that “competitions will only proceed with Government approval and in line with any restrictions”, and that decisions are being made to “minimise financial impact on clubs where possible”.
Junior football will resume this Sunday in line with Government restrictions, with finals to resume for the lower age group and Round 14 for older age groups. Junior football grand finals will now be held on 22 and 29 August.
Veterans Finals and Women’s Finals will also resume this weekend, with the grand final date for both to be 15 August.
The West Gippsland Football Netball Competition, meanwhile, is still weighing up whether to play football this weekend, and have put forward a proposal to clubs, with a decision to be made shortly in consultation with clubs.