In breaking news this morning, the Ovens and Murray, Murray and Tallangatta and District Football Netball Leagues have announced the cancellation of their season 2020 campaigns.
The Ovens and Murray decision was made by the OMFNL Board following a meeting of member clubs last night with the league determining to bring forward its Special Board Meeting previously scheduled for Monday, June 29.
OMFNL General Manager Sean Barrett said the league had conducted a lengthy and thorough consultation process with key stakeholders prior to reaching its decision.
“This decision has not been made lightly, we’ve maintained a glass half full approach throughout this process and we’re bitterly disappointed in making this announcement," Mr Barrett said.
“Following the latest Victorian Government and State health announcement, it’s very difficult to see how we could pursue relevant senior competitions in a safe and responsible manner that wouldn’t be detrimental to our clubs.
“Our decisions need to be focused on what is best in both the short-term and the long-term for our competition, clubs and the community."
The league remains committed to providing competitive opportunities for junior footballers and netballers in 2020 and will work with clubs, AFL North East Border, sponsors, and relevant stakeholders to determine the best options to facilitate these competitions.
The Murray Football Netball League also made a decision last night after constant communication with the boards of the GOTAFE Goulburn Valley League and the SS&A Ovens & Murray League sharing their respective club’s thoughts and concerns.
Murray FNL General Manager Dale Norman said, “The joint meetings were a healthy exercise and something the Leagues will continue to do. Although the structure of the competitions is slightly different, we all have similar issues.
"The Murray FNL Executive is grateful for the opportunity to work together with the leagues and look forward to this continued collaboration into the future.
"Given the recent tightening of restrictions by the Victorian Government the Murray FNL Executive and Clubs concluded it would be socially irresponsible to continue.
“Time was against us in the end. To play a compromised competition and with no clear direction for crowds the only viable decision to ensure the long-term sustainability of the clubs was to cancel the season. Revenue streams for clubs have been impacted due to the inability to generate sponsorship and membership sales.
"Clubs also expressed concerns about the additional burden on volunteers to comply with COVID-19 protocols and procedures, community health and the impact on older volunteers, the inability to manage crowds and implement social distancing requirements and the ongoing confusion over cross border protocols.”
The Murray FNL will now focus on the possibility a junior competition for football and netball in the coming months should clubs wish to be involved. This, of course, will be subject to both Victorian and New South Wales Government restrictions and Return to Play protocols.
Other key concerns identified included the anomalies between the two State Government restrictions, uncertainty around a clear and unified path back to return to play, potential health implications within local communities, the financial strain to our clubs, the additional requirements and stress placed on club and league volunteers, the ability of clubs to conduct social functions, the difficulty of managing crowds amid social distancing rules and not wanting to play without crowds.
More news to follow on the proposed commencement of the Picola and District Football Netball League.