Eastern pulls the pin

There will be no football action in the Eastern Football League this year.

The powerful Eastern Football Netball League, alongside the Northern Football Netball League, has announced that its senior football competitions will be cancelled for season 2020.

Both boards endorsed the recommendation from league management to cancel all senior football for both the men’s and women’s competitions.

The EFNL has also cancelled netball, while both competitions will forge forward with plans for 2020 junior competitions.

In a statement on the Eastern Football Netball League website, CEO Troy Swainston said, after much consideration, both competitions believe it’s in the best interests to commit to beginning in 2021 with all of its clubs in a strong position in the long-term.

“The EFNL has maintained a view throughout this process that we do not want one club to come back next year worse off than they are now,” he said.

“All clubs were aware of the challenges associated with managing a reduced season under Covid-19 rules and restrictions and were very open, balanced, and frank about where their club sat.

“Clubs expressed concerns about their financials, player numbers, committees, older volunteers, crowd restrictions and their inability to manage crowds at open public spaces.

“We must make decisions based on what is best in both the short and the long-term. The information we have gathered from our clubs – together with the latest medical advice – has determined that cancelling the senior football and netball competitions in 2020 is the only viable option.

“The health and safety of the community and club and league sustainability have always been our top priorities.”

Recent feedback from senior clubs indicated an overwhelming wish for the future of the 2020 season to be determined without further delay. Both competitions believe that cancelling their competitions is the only viable decision that will ensure the long-term sustainability of their clubs and the leagues.

Other concerns raised by senior football clubs were: the fiscal burden that playing just half a season would bring; the number of additional requirements for volunteers; the inability to effectively manage crowds to comply with current social distancing rules and crowd restrictions at public (often unfenced) venues; and not wanting to play matches without their local communities being able to attend without restriction.

A decision on the 2020 structure for junior football will be released in due course, with an announcement expected in the next couple of weeks.

The Eastern Football League is home to local senior clubs Chirnside Park, Coldstream, Ferntree Gully, Lilydale, Montrose, Mooroolbark, Silvan, South Belgrave, and Upper Ferntree Gully.