The AFL Gippsland commission’s May monthly meeting began at around 6pm at Morwell last Tuesday. By 6:05pm, all of its six commissioners were asked to resign by AFL Victoria.
Those commissioners were acting chairman John Schelling, John White, Greg Maidment, John Brookes OAM, Cayte Hoppner and Paul Buckley – the latter of whom was not at the meeting.
The stunning development happened as part of agenda item 4 in the meeting – ‘AFL Victoria Update’.
Acting chairman John Schelling told The Mirror last Wednesday morning that he was gutted and devastated at the decision.
He thought they were meeting to discuss the impending outcome of the decision by the Ellinbank League to knock back the six Alberton Football Netball League clubs who had applied to go into their league.
He was aware that AFL Victoria was attending the regular monthly commission meeting.
The understanding was that the purpose of that meeting was to review the AFL Gippsland commission.
“AFL Gippsland found itself in the position of not having sufficient funds, and had sought to have the support of AFL Victoria to assist in rectifying a historical problem, which they believed was going to happen.
“To AFL Gippsland’s surprise, the AFL advised at the start of the meeting that it was their view that the commission was trading insolvent and they requested that all commissioners resign.
“Their view was a form of protection for the volunteers who sat on the commission.
“During questioning at the meeting, it was established that – given the resignations as commissioners – additional directors were appointed immediately, all of AFL Docklands-origin, and the AFL would fund the deficit incurred by AFL Gippsland.
“In discussions between AFL Victoria and the AFL Gippsland Commission, it became apparent that a fresh approach to the region was required. AFL Victoria will appoint an interim Commission while it consults with local stakeholders on the makeup of a new Commission.
“The AFL Gippsland Region Administration Centre (RAC) will continue to operate in its current format, and the changes do not impact on other regions.
“Whilst the AFL Gippsland Commission has worked in the best interests of the game in Gippsland, the time is right to revitalise the Commission to progress the game. AFL Victoria believes the changes will help further support football in Gippsland and ensure the best possible structure to deliver investment for the growth and development of Australian Football in the region.
“AFL Victoria thanks the AFL Gippsland Commission for their contribution to football in the Gippsland region and wishes them well in their future endeavours.”
Steven Reaper, Head of Community Football Capability & Governance told The Mirror that the changes in the Gippsland region are governance changes and will have no impact on the Alberton clubs and their appeal. AFL Victoria has been in contact with AFL Gippsland’s Regional General Manager to discuss the appeals and the clubs will receive notification around the appeal process and timelines. The process for the clubs does not need to start again as the appeals are an operational issue, which is not impacted by the change in governance.AFL Victoria believes having new people involved in the Commission structure will assist in bringing new ideas and thinking to the region, whilst also assisting in the development of relationships going forward. As part of this, AFL Victoria will consult with local stakeholders on the makeup of a new Commission. The time is right to revitalise the Commission to take the game forward and AFL Victoria believes the changes will help further support football in Gippsland.