By sports editor Russell Bennett
The ever-changing Gippsland footy and netball landscape continues to evolve, as the Gazette understands all but one of the current Alberton league clubs have withdrawn their appeals against their knockbacks from the Ellinbank and District Football League (EDFL) and Ellinbank and District Netball Association (EDNA).
It is understood that only Stony Creek is pushing forward with its appeal against the EDFL and EDNA’s decision to prevent it from entering their football and netball competitions.
The move effectively means that Fish Creek, Foster, Meeniyan Dumbalk United, Tarwin and Toora are now free to explore the avenue of applying to join the West Gippsland Football Netball Competition (WGFNC) in a second division.
And the Gazette understands that it’s possible Stony Creek could ultimately still follow the same path if its appeal is unsuccessful.
One notion recently discussed revolved around two of the current lower-ranked WGFNC clubs joining the Alberton league clubs in that second tier – therefore once again leaving the first division with 10 clubs, including newcomers Tooradin-Dalmore and the Warragul Industrials.
There are still rumours circulating that many within the current Alberton competition would prefer that (should they join West Gippsland) their division would be stand-alone, and not part of a promotion-relegation scenario.
Some in the current WGFNC have indicated they would be in favour of a new two-tier competition, because it would at least provide them with stability moving forward.
The Gazette has had discussions with the vast majority of current WGFNC clubs recently and each of them feels as though there’s a great working relationship that exists amongst them. Effectively, they want to stay together as a collective.
The Gazette understands that the Alberton clubs that withdrew their appeal to join the EDFL/EDNA, and instead wish to apply to join the WGFNC, must do so via a written application to the AFL Gippsland commission.
But the commission is currently made up of interim commissioners after AFL Victoria unceremoniously dumped John Schelling, John White, Greg Maidment, John Brookes, Cayte Hoppner, and Paul Buckley last month.
Meanwhile, in the background, the Gazette has heard rumblings of clubs from other regions monitoring the Gippsland situation closely.