Two of suburban Melbourne’s biggest local footy leagues – the Eastern Football League and Northern Football League – have cancelled their 2020 seasons, as first reported by Fox Sports’ Tom Morris.
Clubs were reportedly informed of the decision on Wednesday, while junior footy is set to return.
It applies to both the men’s and women’s leagues, with the combination of financial and health risks forcing the decision.
Understand the Eastern Football League and Northern Football League have both cancelled their 2020 seasons. Big blow for community footy in Victoria. More soon on @FOXFOOTY
— Tom Morris (@tommorris32) June 3, 2020
Both leagues announced the decision in a joint statement.
“Recent 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 read.
“The NFNL and EFNL have the health and safety of not only their participants but the wider community at front of mind in making these judgements.
“Both leagues have a clear obligation to protect players, coaches, volunteers, officials, umpires, staff, supporters, and their families during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“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 community being able to attend without restriction.
“The ongoing uncertainty around season 2020 has been a major concern for clubs as they sought clarity, which we have now been able to provide.”
FNL CEO Troy Swainston said: “The EFNL (Eastern Football Netball League) 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.”
“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.”
Meanwhile, Morris reports that the Victorian Amateur Football Association is expected to make a call on its season by the end of June.
Last year’s grand finalist from the Mornington Peninsula Nepean Football League – Sorrento and Dromana, have reportedly told the league they are out for 2020.