By Sam Watson
THE Ellinbank and District Football League is expecting its senior competition to return next Saturday.
The clubs, the league and AFL Gippsland discussed their way forward on Wednesday night and the decision was made to not play this weekend.
The under 18.5s and under 16.5s will be back in action this weekend but the senior grades will wait at least one more week.
AFL Gippsland’s league operations manager Ken Moore feels the clubs will be happy to return on August 7.
“Judging by the consultation with the clubs last night, most of them seemed happy (to return next Saturday),” Moore said.
Moore said the majority of the clubs in the league did not want to play this weekend as they felt it would be too short a turnaround for their players and volunteers, along with the financial burden of playing in front of no crowd.
“We didn’t want to force them to play; there was a few that were worried about the financial side of things and the inability for their players to train due to lockdown,” Moore said.
“Some of the clubs wanted to play but we went with the majority, we felt that was the common sense thing to do.
“But most clubs, who were worried about training, indicated that after a week they’ll be ready to go.
“So, I can’t see any impediments with proceeding next week.”
Moore expects the league to release a final decision on when they will return early next week.
If the league does return on August 7, they will play the originally scheduled last three rounds of the season before starting the finals on August 28.
Moore said the league looked at all the options but sticking to the original timetable was the only way to go forward.
“We felt making too many changes would be too complex with only three rounds to go.
“It’s not ideal for some clubs but the whole season has been compromised.
“We never knew when COVID-19 was going to strike, it could’ve struck in round two, 10 or 18.
“We can’t help that, it’s just the luck of the draw.
“It’s unfortunate that some clubs will have a tougher draw than others, but I don’t know what the answer is.
“This is an unprecedent thing, there’s no history to draw upon to make your decision.”
And Moore said he can’t wait to see the run home towards the finals.
“It’s getting pretty tight on the ladder, only one game separates third, fourth, fifth and sixth.”
Lang Lang will look to hang on to fifth spot, but Poowong are behind on percentage.
If they do return next Saturday, Poowong will have a similar run home to Lang Lang with both sides playing comfortably winnable games against Nyora and Nilma Darnum.
However, Poowong has a bye in round 20 and Lang Lang will play Trafalgar next Saturday, which they will likely lose.
The ladder positions are now determined by percentage of games won so that will give Poowong the edge if results go as expected.
The Ellinbank and District Netball League is expected to release its decision on the remainder of the season in the coming days.