By sports editor Russell Bennett
Wonthaggi officially wants out of Gippsland’s premier football and netball league, citing travel times and distances as the main factor in requesting a move to the West Gippsland Football Netball Competition.
Wonthaggi Power president Peter Liddle says his club is “in stage two” of its application to join the WGFNC from the Gippsland League from 2020 onwards.
“We’ve had AFL Victoria come back to us to say we can proceed with our application – they’ve given their blessings for us to proceed,” he said.
“We’ve put the application in to leave the Gippsland League, and they’ve got that now.”
It’s long been known that Wonthaggi wanted to explore its options in joining the WGFNC, and the South Gippsland Sentinel-Times first reported on the club’s official application this week.
“I haven’t hidden the fact from anybody, since last November when our members voted at the AGM to look for other options,” Liddle told the Gazette.
“The travel is the biggest issue for us.
“The other Gippsland League clubs drive up and down four-lane highways and freeways, and we have to go over the Strzelecki Ranges.
“That’s our main issue.”
This weekend, Wonthaggi is playing against Bairnsdale at Bairnsdale – a more than 450-kilometre, six-hour round-trip. The Power’s under-16s will leave Wonthaggi at around 5am.
In late June, AFL Gippsland met with representatives of the 12 current West Gippsland football and netball clubs, who made it clear they were not open to accepting new clubs into the competition for 2020.
Soon after, AFL Gippsland received a letter co-signed by all the WGFNC club presidents that reinforced their collective position.
But from 1 August, clubs could seek a transfer under Rule 3.0 of the AFL Victoria Community Handbook and each application is be considered by leagues and commissions on a case-by-case basis. It was not predicted that there’ll be any change to the WGFNC for 2020.
Its current clubs made it clear that they want a period of stability in what is still a relatively new competition.