There will be no senior football for Northern Football Netball League clubs in 2020 as the league announced the cancellation of its senior, reserves and under 19s competitions today.
In a joint announcement with the Eastern Football Netball League, both leagues’ senior men’s and women’s competitions were cancelled on the belief that it was the only viable option to ensure the sustainability of clubs.
However, both leagues are hoping junior football can return and the NFNL is also hoping to conduct its netball competitions.
COVID-19 restrictions have impacted the playing of all sports, with several football leagues across Victoria already cancelling their seasons.
According to the joint statement, feedback from senior clubs indicated an overwhelming wish for the future of the 2020 season to be determined without further delay.
“Both the NFNL and EFNL believed that cancelling their senior competitions is the only viable decision that will ensure the long-term sustainability of their clubs and the leagues,” the statement said.
Senior clubs from both leagues raised concerns about the financial burden of a shortened season, the additional requirements of volunteers, inability to manage crowds amid social distancing rules and not wanting to play without crowds.
NFNL chief executive Peter McDougall said the NFNL had conducted a lengthy and thorough consultation process with all of its key stakeholders prior to making its decision and was committed to beginning 2021 with all clubs in the strongest possible position to succeed in the long term.
“The NFNL 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.”
A final decision on junior football and netball competitions and their 2020 structure will be released as additional social distancing and health protocol updates come to hand.