Senior Leagues Review final recommendations released
Gippsland will officially gain a new senior football league in 2017, after the Gippsland Senior Football Leagues Review committee’s final recommendations were formally accepted by the AFL Gippsland Region Commission.
The newly-formed West Gippsland Football Netball Competition will feature nine clubs in its first season, with Inverloch-Kongwak replacing Korumburra-Bena in the final make-up.
Korumburra-Bena will remain part of the Alberton Football Netball League, while Nyora will continue in the Ellinbank and District Football League, in the only changes to the draft recommendations report presented to the Commission in January.
The review was initiated by AFL Gippsland in March last year and included an extensive research and consultation process.
AFL Gippsland region general manager Travis Switzer said the response to the new structure had been extremely positive.
“The vast majority of anecdotal evidence we have had so far has been about the potential for competitive balance across the region and there is a real buzz about the new league,” Switzer said.
“Korumburra-Bena have made no secret of their desire to play in the West Gippsland Competition but the Commission felt at this point in time the club was more suited to the Alberton Football Netball League.
“We have said from day one that we preferred league structures to be more fluid in terms of their member clubs, so the door remains open for Korumburra-Bena to move West in future.”
Ten clubs provided submissions in response to the initial draft recommendations, but so few changes showed the independent review committee had been close to the mark.
“Because this review is very important to the future of football netball clubs in Gippsland the process has been very rigorous,” Switzer said.
“There is no doubt that some of the decisions made have been difficult but the Commission has been determined to make decisions that are best for the entire region.
“In our early consultations Nyora showed some interest in changing leagues, but since the release of our draft recommendations it became clear a move to the Alberton league was not in the best interests of the club.”
The other notable submission came from Inverloch-Kongwak, which requested consideration for the West Gippsland Football Netball Competition.
“We looked at a range of possibilities but after further consultation and reviewing the data again swapping Korumburra-Bena and Inverloch-Kongwak was the Commission’s decision.
“We are still flexible in our thinking for future changes, but at the present time we think this format will be the best option.
“We know that we have to do something with junior football in the Alberton League, but there are problems in a couple of the other leagues as well that we need to look at too. We will be conducting a another review into junior football in the coming weeks,” Switzer said.
Alberton Football Netball Club president Barry Stride told The Mirror that they are between a rock and a hard place.
They are happy to have Korumburra-Bena stay in the AFNL and will work with then to stay, but understand their disappointment at not being able to go into the new West Gippsland League.
He said the board will meet in coming weeks with the eight clubs left to see just what they want for next season. He said they are all happy to stay on, but will need the backing of the eight clubs.
He was not sure whether Korumburra-Bena would appeal the decision but thought they probably would.
The Mirror contacted all eight clubs who will form the new Albertn Football Netball League for their comments and below is a short snapshot of their views.
COURT OF ARBITRATION
Korumburra-Bena president Ross Besley told The Mirror that they are very disappointed in the decision to put them back into the AFNL.
He said there is no way they want to be apart of this league and will go to the Court of Arbitration of needed to go into the new West Gippsland League.
He said they would loose all their netballers, their under 18s and 16s footballers would only get to play eight to 12 games a year and any better senior players would move on to a higher standard of football.
He said he really felt for the netballers who have been ignored during the whole process.
He also said the club has the full backing of all the former Bass Valley League clubs (Phillip Island, Kilcunda Bass, Dalyston and Inverloch-Kongwak) to join the new league.
Co-president Anthony Hullick said they are happy to run with an eight team competition, but would not accept a seven team comp if Korumburra-Bena decided to fight the decision and not play in 2017.
His other major concern is the junior age groups (18s and 16s) which he feels needs addressing urgently to suit our demographics better.
Foster president Mal Davies said he was disappointed with the decision to go back to an eight team competition, virtually the old Alberton League, but said its been a lengthy process and that the club will go along with it and see how it pans out.
He said the biggest problem at Foster is the lack of juniors.
Co president Craig Jenkins said he was happy with an eight team competition.
Clubs might not have to spend as much money to keep in touch with the stronger teams as we have now and it might mean some of the smaller clubs are around a lot longer than they otherwise might be.
Hopefully it doesn’t drag out for another six months if Korumburra-Bena don’t want to stay in Alberton.
MDU president Andrew Mackie told The Mirror he thinks the new league is probably the best outcome for the smaller clubs in the competition.
He is not sure how sustainable and eight team competition will be in the next 5-10 years, but time will tell.
A seven team competition would not be sustainable for sure if Korumburra-Bena fought and won their appeal.
Another concern is the lack of juniors, so the age structures need to be looked at very quickly.
Bill Pratt of Stony Creek said maybe it’s time to look at the juniors and not the seniors.
It will take three or four years to see if we can survive a seven or eight team competition. Clubs down our way are desperately short of juniors and without juniors we won’t have senior sides in the future.
If we all give it a go we could all be better off in the future, spending less money, with very little travel as well. Maybe the standard will drop a bit and we might not be able to recruit better players and coaches to a smailler league, but who knows, it might just work as we are really just small country towns trying to compete against much bigger towns.
Let’s just see what happens in the next few years.
Fish Creek were not keen to talk to The Mirror about the new changes.
The Allies president is currently away and was unable to be contacted.
Clubs and leagues had seven days to appeal against the recommendations