By Mitch Guy
THE Korumburra-Bena Football Netball Club could have a fight on its hands with the Giants likely to be forced remain in the Alberton FNL as part of AFL Gippsland’s Senior Football Leagues Review.
The final recommendations, which are set to be released today (Tuesday), will move Inverloch-Kongwak to the West Gippsland League alongside fellow Alberton clubs Dalyston, Kilcunda-Bass and Phillip Island.
Under the draft recommendations released in February, Korumburra-Bena was originally placed in the West Gippsland League and Inverloch-Kongwak remained in the Alberton.
A strong case by Inverloch-Kongwak has seen the Sea Eagles all but certain to be placed in the West Gippsland League.
Nyora was also placed in the Alberton FNL under the draft recommendations, but a strong backlash from the announcement has seen the club set to remain in the Ellinbank League.
Despite its strong intentions to move to the new West Gippsland League, Korumburra-Bena president Ross Besley confirmed on Monday that the club isn’t confident of a positive result.
“I should be (confident), but the whole process seems to be around propping up the Alberton League,” he said.
“The idea of a restructure is for sustainability of clubs and we reckon if we’re in Alberton it will be the opposite. It won’t be of any benefit to us.
“We’ve really committed to the move to West Gippsland. We understand that the seniors the last couple of seasons haven’t performed that well, but there were financial reasons for that which have now been remedied.
“We’ve had a number of former players say if we’re in West Gippsland they’re in and if we’re still in Alberton they’re not interested.
“We’ve been very fiscally responsible and we’re in a very good financial situation to go into West Gippsland.”
Mr Besley said the club is 100 per cent against staying in Alberton and would fight the decision.
“We’ll appeal and if that fails we’ll look at taking it further, to arbitration,” he said.
The request by Inverloch-Kongwak to join the West Gippsland team has given AFL Gippsland a major conundrum to solve.
If Inverloch-Kongwak and Korumburra-Bena were to join the West Gippsland League, Alberton would be left with an unsustainable seven-team competition, a scenario that AFL Gippsland is determined to avoid.
Yarram is another club that was approached to re-join the Alberton FNL.
Yarram and Korumburra-Bena were invited to present their case to the AFL Gippsland review committee on Thursday, with Yarram saying no to a suggested move from the North Gippsland FNL.
That idea is believed to have been thrown out by the review committee, leaving Korumburra-Bena or Inverloch-Kongwak as the only options for the eighth team in Alberton.
Inverloch-Kongwak’s strong junior program, impressive netball ranks and the senior football side’s rapid improvement this season has boosted its chances of switching to West Gippsland.
Although Korumburra-Bena has languished at the bottom of the ladder this season, Mr Besley was adamant the Giants belong in West Gippsland.
“If Inverloch-Kongwak goes, then all the old Bass Valley clubs we believe should be together,” he said.
“We believe because it should be a football/netball league, that it would be detrimental to our brilliant netballers in a big way if we stayed in Alberton. If that’s not taken into consideration they’re only paying the netball side of it lip service.”
Korumburra-Bena has historically been very successful in junior footy.
With many Alberton clubs struggling to field under 18 and under 16 sides this season, the Giants are also worried that its junior development would suffer if forced to remain in Alberton.
AFL Gippsland tight-lipped
The Gippsland Senior Football Leagues Review committee and the AFL Gippsland Commission met on Thursday to discuss the final recommendations.
The recommendations have now been sent to AFL Victoria and are awaiting approval.
AFL Gippsland region general manager and review committee chair Travis Switzer would not confirm or deny that Korumburra-Bena would be placed in the Alberton FNL under the final recommendations.
He said clubs can appeal the final decision.
“Each club that’s unhappy with the final recommendations can lodge an appeal within seven days and then those clubs have a further 21 days to put together a case to be heard by the AFL Gippsland commission,” he said.
“That’s when it will probably be more rigorous in terms of what submissions from clubs will be like.
“Some tough decisions have been made and that’s the right of any club or league or stakeholder that’s affected (to appeal).”