Action from the Poowong v Catani Thirds match earlier this year. Photo: Jeff Tull.
By Mitch Guy
THE Ellinbank and District Football League will revert back to a one-tier competition after the board of management decided to ditch the East and West divisions last week.
At the beginning of this season the league split into two divisions to form an East division of eight sides and a West division of seven sides.
EDFL secretary Ken Moore said the main reason for changing back to a one tier competition was the uncertainty of some teams remaining in the league.
“Primarily we felt if we have an eight or seven club competition and a couple of teams drop out, it is unworkable,” he said.
“We don’t know what the intentions of a lot of the clubs are.
“Our major reason for going back to a 15-team competition is that if teams drop out in the next couple of years, then the competition will still run smoothly.”
According to Moore, clubs in the Ellinbank League have been approached by the Alberton League about the possibility of joining, and the Casey Cardinia League asked for permission from AFL Victoria to speak with Ellinbank clubs recently before withdrawing the request.
Poowong Football and Netball Club president Peter Notman said the club is disappointed with the decision and were happy with the way the league was structured.
“We had eight in our competition and our belief was that the general consensus of the eight clubs was that they were happy to stay the same.
“We were against bringing it back together and comfortable with how it was.”
The Nyora Football and Netball Club is yet to form a view on the decision, according to secretary Chris Thornton.
Surveys were sent to all clubs to gather information and most information suggested that the majority of East division teams didn’t want to revert back to a 15-team competition, but seven teams in the West division despised the split divisions.
The future sustainability of the league was not the only factor in the decision, as the financial strain of running two leagues also paved the way for the change.
“Running two leagues, we didn’t have the resources to govern properly,” Mr Moore said.
“Financially, the extra money you get through finals is barely enough to cover the cost of rest of season because you have double costs for everything.
“The time and effort of running two leagues is tough.”
Criticism from clubs in regards to the junior draw was another factor the league took into account.
“The junior draw already had byes and then with teams dropping out we had teams where kids didn’t play footy for three or four weeks,” Mr Moore said.
“That didn’t encourage kids. They want to play every week.”
This season’s draws were compromised with some teams having to play the top sides three times and others only two times.
Mr Moore said this year it will be compromised as well with 15 teams, but the league is trying to make it even.
“We understand there is a disparity of teams on and off the field so we’re going to look at equalisation schemes.
“There’s going to be a revamped point system. We’ve put a couple of ideas together but haven’t finalised anything.
“We’ve got a 30-points system at the moment and the new points system will be heavily orientated towards juniors and the retention of players.
“It won’t be an immediate cure but with time it will be a success, especially for those who develop and encourage juniors, they’ll bear the fruit.”
Mr Moore said it was a tough decision for the league executive to make.
“Whichever way we went we were going to get criticised.
“We want the clubs to aspire to be the best they can and by competing against the best you think that would improve the club both on and off the field.
“Some of the clubs that are doing well have set the benchmark for the others to follow.”