TRAFALGAR has already won its appeal to join the Ellinbank and District FNL in 2021, now it’s Yallourn Yallorn North’s members who have voted to go.
The Mid Gippsland League would be further reduced to a problematic 13-club competition and North Gippsland 11 clubs but officials at Mid Gippsland are yet to see an application.
Mid Gippsland official spokesperson Rob Popplestone believes there may be more resistance this time.
“In all likelihood, the clubs would probably vote against it (YYN leaving), if as expected we get an application.
“If that happens, like Trafalgar, they would have the option of appealing to AFL Victoria but I think at this point the league would be saying “you wanted Mid Gippsland to accept the six Alberton clubs, now give it a chance to work”.
“They’re saying they want a bit of security around what Mid Gippsland is going to look like for two or three years, at least until we see how this is going to work.
“Reducing the league from 15 to 14 with the departure of Trafalgar was one thing but I’m not sure it’s in anyone’s interests for us to go to 13 and North Gippsland to go to 11.
“Essentially we are waiting to see what Yallourn Yallourn North does now.”
Mid Gippsland has a meeting of clubs scheduled for next week but if YYN does apply and the clubs knock them back, it would take about two weeks to get an answer from AFL Victoria to an appeal.
Mr Popplestone said there had also been some talk of other Mid Gippsland Clubs considering their future.
In fact, Morwell East, which incidentally abstained from the vote on accepting the Alberton Six, has put to members the option of applying to join North Gippsland.
Club President Graeme Knowles has provided a fair account of the options to members in a newsletter on the club’s Facebook page, revealing that the average distance for games in Mid Gippsland (with Alberton’s clubs in) is 49km as opposed to 42km with North Gippsland.
This would involve two trips to Yarram and Woodside each year if the Hawks joined the NGFNL but only three trips across the hills, to Alberton clubs, not six, if they stayed with Mid Gippy in 2021.
Mr Popplestone said a proposed draw had been provided to clubs, detailing both a limit of three trips a year to South Gippsland and a protection of local rivalries, at least for the first couple of years, as a feature of the draw.
He said Mid Gippsland had not canvassed the idea of trying to attract other clubs to fill any vacancies, or at least to ensure an even number of clubs, but he said the league would welcome inquiries.
Of course, there’s no guarantee that all of the clubs that were operating pre-COVID will be able to get up and going again, if they get the all clear ahead of the 2021 season.
There’s likely to be a lot more movement before any kick-off in April 2021.