WHETHER it’s the number of COVID-19 cases in Melbourne, a continuation of the Melbourne lockdown or restrictions on crowds… there’s a black cloud still hanging over the resumption of the football-netball season, despite yesterday’s announcement of a reprieve for regional Victoria.

With the return to previous settings, and the restrictions which remain on crowd numbers, and it will be interesting to see this week how local leagues react.

And the fact that a member of the Newport Football Club has passed on COVID-19 to a teammate, according to Saturday’s pandemic update, underscores the risks that exist for community sport when there’s an outbreak.

The first of Victoria’s football-netball leagues to call it, the Upper Murray league, which includes cross-border clubs such as the Border-Walwa Magpies, Bullioh Bulldogs, Corryong Demons, Cudgewa Blues, Federals Swans and Tumbarumba Kangaroos, took a unanimous vote mid-week last week.

Theirs was a decision which took cross-border availability of players into account but it’s a tough consideration that local clubs and leagues will now have to face.

Publicity officer for the Mid Gippsland League, Rob Popplestone, acknowledged at the weekend the season was in the balance.

He said the season “could be shot” if the lockdown was extended but agreed the restrictions on crowds were still a major impediment.

“We’ll have a phone hook-up this week to discuss the changes and look at what might be possible.

“We’ve talked about going straight into the finals, but the restrictions on crowds could be a sticking point.”

He said there was a level of angst among clubs, but that’s been the case for the past two months.