THE Alberton Football Netball League has been reduced to a seven-club competition after the Korumburra-Bena Football Netball Club won its appeal to join the newly-formed West Gippsland competition next season.
According to a statement released by AFL Victoria on Friday, “an AFL Victoria Appeals Panel has decided to uphold the appeal of the Korumburra-Bena Football Netball Club (KBFNC) to play in the newly created West Gippsland Football Netball Competition in 2017.
“Having considered all evidence provided, the Appeal Panel believes that the long term sustainable future of KBFNC is in the West Gippsland Football Netball Competition and not the Alberton Football Netball League as outlined in the AFL Gippsland – Senior Football Review.
“The Appeal Panel is satisfied the Alberton Football Netball League can be a strong and vibrant competition in its own right similar to that of other such like competitions across the state.”
AFL Victoria CEO Steven Reaper applauded the process undertaken by AFL Gippsland and the thorough and consultative approach in their review of footballing structures in the region.
“I cannot speak highly enough of the work AFL Gippsland and in particular Travis Switzer and Brian Quigley have done with its Senior Football Review,” he said.
“AFL Victoria has been delighted with the outstanding progress AFL Gippsland has made to football in the region since it was established, and we will continue to fully support AFL Gippsland in its efforts to drive the strategic direction of football in the region in the future.”
Korumburra-Bena FNC President Ross Besley said the club was relieved with the decision.
“The process has been done, the right decision been made, now we move forward and we start planning for the future,” he said.
“One of pleasing aspects of the whole thing is on the weekend a number of our Fourths players thanked us for the hard work we’ve done and a number of netballers who were looking to play elsewhere next year have now said they’ll play with us in the new league.
“In the rooms on Saturday night it was quite buoyant.”
Originally placed in the West Gippsland competition under AFL Gippsland’s draft recommendations released in February, the Giants were disappointed to be told they would remain in the Alberton FNL when the final recommendations were released in May.
The club was on the front foot from the start, vehemently opposing the decision and lodging an appeal.
Mr Besley said the majority of the present Alberton clubs have been supportive of their position.
“They understood our position; they said they wanted us to stay but understand what we’re doing,” he said.
“All our supporters, sponsors and members have been very supportive of the committee, it’s been fantastic. Now we’re going to have to work hard to justify the decisions that have been made.”
The Giants are now looking towards 2017, and Mr Besley said the committee’s first job was to appoint a coach.
“It could be the coach we’ve got or could be someone else, it will be opened up to an extent,” he said.
“We believe we’re in a strong financial position to put a competitive team together and that’s what we hope to do.”
AFL Gippsland not happy
AFL Gippsland is not happy with the outcome and released the following statement, regarding the result of an appeal against the Gippsland Senior Football Leagues Review final recommendations:
“AFL Gippsland wishes to express disappointment in the AFL Victoria decision to overturn a key aspect of AFL Gippsland’s Senior Leagues Review Recommendations and uphold Korumburra-Bena Football Netball Club’s appeal to participate in the newly-formed West Gippsland Football Netball Competition.
“AFL Gippsland devoted a significant amount of time and energy collecting and analysing relevant data and consulting with clubs and leagues to determine the final recommendations.
“We believe the review process was conducted thoroughly and in the best interests of football in Gippsland.
“AFL Gippsland acknowledges the appeal decision is final and will move forward with the remaining Alberton Football Netball League clubs to ensure they are part of a thriving and sustainable competition into the future.
“AFL Gippsland will make no further comment regarding the matter.”