With just three weeks out from the beginning of the 2018 season club’s in the Picola District Football Netball League (PDFNL) are still deciding on whether to back the league’s board decision to cut ties with AFL Goulburn Murray.
Nine clubs attended a meeting on Friday night to help finalise a decision to remain affiliated with the sport’s governing body, but some are still undecided.
Tungamah Football Netball Club looks poised to become the first PDFNL south-east division club to possibly break away from the competition.
However last year’s premier, Rennie Football Netball Club have not made a decision and will hold a meeting this Thursday night with club members to assist in determining the best way forward.
A meeting between PDFNL officials and AFL Goulburn Murray will also be held this Thursday to help find a way forward.
Tungamah Club President Troy Costigan said the support of AFL GM was something the club couldn’t move away from.
‘‘We want to be affiliated,’’ he said.
‘‘We had a meeting last week and decided that we want to stick with AFL Goulburn Murray.’’
Costigan said the benefits of staying, including talent pathways and funding made affiliation the club’s only option.
“There’s the funding from the AFL, we’d miss all that funding and we’re at the stage as a club where we need to upgrade, and missing the funding would mean that wasn’t possible,” Costigan said.
The league’s decision means promising young Picola league talents such as Nick Irvine may no longer play for TAC Cup side Murray Bushrangers and won’t be part of academy programs, with regional general manager Martin Gleeson citing insurance ramifications as the main reason.
Costigan wouldn’t speculate on the chances his club would be taking a minority stance as one of few clubs to affiliate.
‘‘I’m pretty sure a lot of clubs are on the fence at the moment, but I can’t speak for other clubs,’’ he said.
Rennie’s Club President Andrew Starr said the club would make a more informed decision following a meeting with club members following training this Thursday evening.
“We will get a feel of what club members want this Thursday night after providing them with as much information as we can give them,” Starr said.
“Ideally we would like to see the league come to an agreement with the AFL at their meeting on Thursday night.
“It’s not ideal to have to make any decision to stay or go just three weeks out from the start of the season,” Starr said.
Rennie are scheduled to play Tungamah on Saturday, April 7 in the first round.
The PDFNL board had until 5pm on March 5 to accept a one-year affiliation offer with AFL Goulburn Murray, but failed to adhere to the deadline. The decision means that the PDFNL will no longer receive the benefits of affiliation, which include but are not limited to insurance, competition management and access to talent pathways, effective immediately.
The PDFNL moved swiftly to head off a potential exodus of clubs with league officials brokering an insurance partnership with Arthur J. Gallagher to provide the same level of cover to players as previous seasons.
The league has also secured another deal with Interact Sport to provide online fixturing, results and registration capabilities and come up with a $4780 cheaper affiliation fee for clubs compared to what they paid to AFLGM last year.
It is believed the PDFNL aim to maintain a player point system this season and a suspended or de-registered player coming into the competition will still have to serve their penalty in the league.
Tungamah and Rennie play in the south-east division of the PDFNL alongside Katandra, Katunga, Waaia, Dookie United, Tungamah, Shepparton East and Katamatite.
The north-west division is made up of Tocumwal, Berrigan, Deniliquin Rovers, Strathmerton, Jerilderie, Blighty, Mathoura, Yarroweyah and Picola United.
AFL Goulburn Murray Region General Manager Martin Gleeson is disappointed that the matter has dragged on for so long.
“This is the fourth consecutive recent communication deadline PDFNL has not adhered to regarding affiliation,” Gleeson said.
“If there is interest from clubs in remaining within the system, including insurance, player transfer regulations and pathway programs then it’s important that they be provided with an option to do so.
“As well as retaining the current benefits of affiliation the alternate competition will be governed by a local Advisory Committee, be administered from the AFL GM office and will engage the services of an affiliated umpiring group to officiate matches.”
Martin Gleeson reiterated the possibility of starting up a rival competition in which PDFNL clubs who wished to be affiliated could join.
There is talk the Tungamah and District League could even come out of recess and be reformed.
‘‘If there is interest from clubs in remaining within the system, including insurance, player transfer regulations and pathway programs then it’s important that they be provided with an option to do so,’’ he said.