IT’s been bubbling under the surface for the better part of two years.
At the start of the 2017 season, Picola and District Football Netball League had no desire to sign an affiliation agreement with AFL Goulburn Murray.
At the eleventh hour, however, the agreement was signed.
Twelve months later, it’s a different story.
On Monday night, a final deadline for singing the affiliation agreement was not met by the league.
AFL Goulburn Murray Region General Manager Martin Gleeson said the competition now had no choice but to roll back the agreement.
‘‘The Picola league received its affiliation document in December,’’ Gleeson said.
‘‘We received no response from the league regarding any concerns or issues with the agreement they may have had. We chased them at the end of January and requested a response by February 12 so we could continue planning for the season whichever way they decided to go.
‘‘We didn’t hear back at that date, so we contacted the league who requested an extension until the end of the week. That date passed with no response. When we attempted to contact them again, the league requested a meeting. We asked for an agenda for the meeting and requested it be sent to us by the end of the week.’’
At this point, roughly February 23, AFLGM cancelled the meeting with the Picola League after no communication was received.
‘‘We cancelled the meeting on the Saturday morning,’’ Gleeson said.
‘‘We then received contact on the Saturday night with parts of the agreement highlighted.’’
PDFNL operations manager Shane Railton identified a number of issues in the agreement as part of that agenda.
‘‘The key issues for the league were in relation to being bound to have our administration with AFLGM, which we have no supporters indicating going forward,’’ Railton said.
‘‘Another key concern is being required to get AFLGM permission to change rules and regulations which is against our constitution. Our constitution requires that any decisions are made by the members.
‘‘The final issue is that we would be bound to take on any rules that the AFL make without getting a say.’’
Railton said the league is controlled by its members, and believes they should have control.
‘‘If our clubs don’t want something to happen, it shouldn’t happen. It is essential that the clubs remain in control of our league.’’
Mr Gleeson said the Picola league had managed the deadline badly.
‘‘These documents have been in the clubs hands since December, longer really with last year’s agreements,’’ he said.
‘‘If you have identified these issues, why wait until now to bring them up? These issues could have been raised at any stage throughout the process, it’s not ideal for this to be left until the month the season starts.’’
As the agreement was not signed, AFLGM was left with no choice but to roll back the agreement.
‘‘At the end of the day it is a choice that they have made and, unfortunately, we have to draw a line in the sand and roll back the agreement.’’
As a result, the PDFNL will lose access to insurance policies, access to Sports Pulse databases and inclusion in talented player pathways of AFLGM.
Mr Railton said the league had prepared for this situation.
‘‘We have another website to do our scores with. We will come out of this about $80,000 better off.’’
The league formally announced on Tuesday that they had signed a partnership with Arthur J. Gallagher insurance for the season.
Last year, the late signing came as a result of club pressure on the league.
Mr Gleeson said the clubs will remain affiliated with the league for a further two weeks.
‘‘For country Victoria to maintain its status and indeed grow, the clubs must be vibrant and financially sustainable,’’ Gleeson said.
‘‘As such, AFL Goulburn Murray’s focus will continue to be in supporting its clubs to ensure the long-term sustainability of community football in the region.
‘‘If there is interest from clubs in remaining within the system, including insurance, player transfer regulations and pathway programs then its important that they be provided with an option to do so.’’