THE Premier Daniel Andrews has given football and netball training in groups of 10 the all clear but AFL Victoria’s position is that “no sanctioned training will take place until further notice”.

That position was conveyed to all Gippsland clubs AFL Gippsland Regional Manager Richard Black.

“AFL Victoria will seek clarity from the State Government around what today’s announcement means for community football (and netball) and will be in contact in due course,” Mr Black told clubs.

“A number of considerations around health and safety protocols and insurance need to be worked through prior to any training being sanctioned.

“AFL Victoria will provide AFL Gippsland with a return to play protocol for our community leagues and clubs once it is approved by the State Government.

“As soon as I have more information, I’ll be in touch.”

Some clubs are already champing at the bit.

“Our coach wanted to get training going straight away until we were told by AFL Gippsland that there would be no sanctioned training,” said co-president of the Fish Creek Football Netball Club Ray Stefani.

“Our players are keen to get started,” he said.

“These been talk that a lot of clubs in Gippsland felt they wouldn’t be able to play without supporters coming through the gates, but the small leagues are probably in a better position there.

“It doesn’t cost us a much during the off-season and essentially we’re still in the off-season. Player payments are our main cost and if we could come to some arrangement there, football could be back on this season, even with restrictions, as long as they were workable.”

But that’s going to have to wait on clarification from the government and from AFL Victoria.

Restructure talks

Meanwhile there’s been a lot happening behind the scenes with regard to the G25 restructure of Gippsland football, initiated by AFL Victoria, run independently to both AFL Victoria and AFL Gippsland, outsourced to independent consultants ColganBauer and facilitated by Phllip Mooney.

Mr Mooney conducted meetings with some of the leagues on Monday this week and will continue to meet, by video conference, with others tonight (Wednesday).

The future of the Alberton Football Netball League appears to be a focus, although the strength of the response from West Gippsland clubs, that there be no change to their league, is a sticking point.

There appear to be two proposals on the table for Alberton, one that appears to have lost favour of trying to get two West Gippsland clubs to join Alberton and a previous option for the six Alberton clubs to join Mid Gippsland but with two Mid Gippsland clubs departing for either Ellinbank or North Gippsland.

Mr Stefani said that while West Gippsland remained opposed to two clubs leaving their competition, the option was also losing favour with some Alberton clubs as well.

“Some feel that even if they got two clubs to join us, we could be back in the same situation in a year or two if one of those clubs, or an existing Alberton club didn’t continue.

“We’d be back to seven clubs and pretty much in the same position.

“I have no doubt AFL Victoria would like to see a two division competition in Gippsland involving West Gippsland, Ellinbank Alberton and Mid Gippsland clubs in the future but with the COVID-19 situation, I think they feel it would be too much of a change to take on in the present climate.”

Alberton questions

Here are some of the questions posed to the G25 review by the Alberton league on Monday night. Some answers were provided on Tuesday.

Q1. Can you confirm that the Report recommendations concerning the AFNL will be put in place in 2021?

Q2. Are you aware that AFL Vic acknowledged and stated last year that there must be a league in South Gippsland for geographic and club sustainability reasons?

Q3. An option for AFNL clubs to go into a league with Mid Gippsland clubs was the recommendation of the last review and was strongly opposed and successfully appealed by Mid Gippsland clubs. We are wary of appeals lengthening any outcome which is extremely unsettling for all concerned. Has this been investigated anew.

Q4. Some clubs have used the argument of not wanting to join AFNL because of no Under 16s. If all leagues had under 17s only, then all leagues would have juniors including AFNL.

Q5. The current situation of AFNL was the direct result of AFL Vic/AFL Gippsland’s actions and no fault of AFNL. The AFNL did not appeal the decisions because they were promised a solution for three years. Does the review prefer to unsettle, disband and jeopardise six strong clubs in the AFNL rather than sway to peer pressure and not find two clubs from anywhere for its survival, 120-plus years cast aside?

Q6. It was state last night that a group of respected local identities will be put together – will this include members of the previous commission and review panel members who have caused the current predicament that we currently find ourselves in.

More details to follow.

Premier’s key points

Key points of the Premier’s announcement on Monday:

* Victoria has relaxed restrictions — introduced due to the coronavirus pandemic — on what sports players and teams can do to exercise and train

* Training will still remain non-contact for the next three weeks, but players will be able to gather in groups of 10 from Tuesday at 11:59pm AEST

There has been no reference to netballers resuming training but given the low-pay or no-pay structure for country netball, the sport may well be in the best position of all to restart.

* Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews has called for clubs to use common sense, with hand sanitising and clean equipment plus social distancing.

Meanwhile, the G25 investigation into the restructure of Gippsland football is progressing at a pace with crucial meetings this week.

AFL Victoria is expected to make an announcement soon about a resumption to sanctioned training.

We’d like to see more of this sort of action in the not too distant future.