An open offer from the Kyabram District Football Netball League seeking new clubs to help swell its ranks has potentially started an arms race across the region.
A proposition to attract a further six to eight clubs from neighbouring competitions could cause a ripple effect that shifts the landscape of football in and around the Goulburn Valley extraordinarily, but the Kyabram District league is not the only entity seeking new blood.
Any club movement would affect the neighbouring competitions and while the premier Goulburn Valley League is highly likely to remain untouched, the Murray and Picola District leagues could change shape.
News sports journalists Tyler Maher and Alex Mitchell sounded out the respective organisations for their thoughts on the matter.
Picola District league operations manager Shane Railton was not surprised about the Kyabram District league’s announcement, revealing that a small number of KDFNL clubs had unofficially approached his organisation with interests of joining it.
Meanwhile, Murray league general manager Dale Norman countered last week’s announcement with one of his own — his competition is also looking to expand significantly.
After accommodating former Picola District league clubs Shepparton East, Tungamah and Katandra on the eve of this season, the Murray executive is aiming to start a new competition under its banner for next year to ‘‘assist with the integration and sustainability’’ of the trio.
Murray is after five to eight clubs to make the goal a reality — an almost identical push to that of the Kyabram District league.
It could leave clubs keen on moving leagues with potentially three competitions to choose from at the end of this season in order to land where they feel is best for their own organisation.
Shane Railton, PDFNL operations manager
‘‘The Picola league is not surprised by the recent announcement the KD is looking to attract clubs and get a competition going of similar structure to ours.
"It comes on the back of recently being contacted by clubs within the KD representing others within the league indicating they would like to apply to join the PDFL for season 2019.
"We unofficially got a contact from a club within the KDL representing four clubs wishing to join the PD in 2019. At the moment, we haven’t had anything official come our way.
"Another thing with our clubs at the moment is we are in discussions with the AFL (regarding affiliation) at the moment, so we won’t be entertaining anything until we’ve gone through that process.
"The way the situation is, the KD has four clubs indicating they want a structure for additional grades. I believe they want that to happen, and my understanding is they want that or they will be going elsewhere.’’
Dale Norman, MFL general manager
‘‘It is the intention of the Murray FL executive to start a new competition for 2019 to assist with the integration and sustainability of the clubs that joined the league at the start of the season in extraordinary circumstances.
"Two leagues governed by one executive, administration, constitution and operating rules (is our aim). Clubs in the current Murray FNL geographical area will be offered an alternative option to join a competition that will be tiered. The target is a further 5-8 clubs to join the Murray FL competition.
"Such structures are commonplace in suburban areas, but largely untested in regional areas.
"There will be no compulsory relegation or promotion of clubs within the tiered competitions. There may have to be mechanisms put in place to assist with any movement of clubs.
"Any movement between leagues will be based on criteria such as junior development, netball performance, and financial performance — not just the results of the senior football team. In the end, it will be the choice of the clubs and its members.
"This is more of a restructure of the region rather than a takeover of any league or club.
"The executive was pleased with the feedback and support of the clubs so this may come to fruition.
"There is an expectation that the 12 original clubs will feel minimal impact.’’