Talks around starting the new Goldfields District Football Netball League as soon as 2018 have been placed on hold.
AFL Goldfields general manager Rod Ward has admitted there is no hope of the league being formed by next season.
“That league won’t get up for next year,” Ward said.
It was actually going to be quite hurtful to the clubs unless they had certainty for 2018.- Rod Ward
“As it stands at the moment, probably the majority of clubs are very keen for that league to get up, but there was less desire for it to get up for next year. So we have taken that feedback into account. One of the recommendations was to explore that possibility for 2018, so that’s been taken off the table.”
Ward said a key reason for the delay in setting up the league was because clubs were already well into their planning for the 2018 season under current competition structures.
“Clubs are openly in discussion with coaches and players for next year and those discussions stalled. It was actually going to be quite hurtful to the clubs unless they had certainty for 2018. We wanted to give them that certainty, which we have.”
Shock waves were sent around the region’s football and netball circles last week when the draft recommendations from AFL Goldfields’ senior competition review were made public.
One of the key findings was to create a new competition with clubs from the Central Highlands and Maryborough Castlemaine District leagues.
The teams outlined for the new Goldfields District league were: Creswick, Clunes, Carngham-Linton, Rokewood-Corindhap, Learmonth, Newlyn, Skipton, Smythesdale, Trentham and Lexton.
Despite being placed on hold for 2018, Ward said the league was still a recommendation for implementation the following year.
Ward said the feedback received from the Central Highlands clubs during the consultation process was that there was “very little” appetite for a divisional split of that league and more desire for geographical divisions.
“Of the geographical splits discussed, there was more desire for an east and west split. I suppose what has clouded that is the decision to allow Waubra and Beaufort to play in what was effectively the eastern division. And because there was little appetite for a divisional split, there was more appetite for a proposed new league.”
Ward and his team are awaiting feedback before deciding on final recommendations, which will be revealed after the 2017 season.