PREMIER Daniel Andrews has been called on in state parliament to allow canteens to open and spectators to attend community sport when competitions resume.

The Nationals Member for Eastern Victoria Region, Melina Bath, said the future of our beloved community sporting organisations in regional Victoria hangs in the balance.

“Without spectators and [without] funds raised through the canteen, sporting clubs will not be financially viable,” said Ms Bath.

“Our great community sporting clubs are facing financial pressure as a result of lost sponsors, lost revenue, lost memberships, lost canteen sales and lost fundraising activities.

“Returning to play in a post-COVID environment presents the single biggest challenge our sporting clubs have faced. There is a real risk some may not survive.”

Across Victoria, 15 football and netball clubs have already cancelled their 2020 season, citing financial stress. While keen to play, other leagues are hanging out for an announcement around spectators and canteen operations.

Some Gippsland football and netball clubs state a minimum of 500 spectators is required to cover costs, with potential of 2500 for finals.

Ms Bath said the Premier’s return to play plan seriously lacked detail.

“The Andrews’ government must trust our community members to continue undertaking required physical distancing and hygiene safeguards,” said Ms Bath. 

“Canteen volunteers can manage sales, food preparation and service with appropriate physical distancing. Their operations are no different to any other takeaway food business.

“By nature, winter sport enables physical distancing, so it is absurd to not allow spectators return and canteens open.”

Ms Bath said sport in regional Victoria is an important part of life, contributing to the health, wellbeing and connectedness of our country towns.

“I am calling on Daniel Andrews to give our clubs the best opportunity to play a modified season with spectators and canteens to give them a sporting chance at survival,” Ms Bath said.