It was the last competition standing but the Southern league has joined its fellow senior Melbourne metro leagues in cancelling its season. But it still hasn’t given up on the Under 19s and netball.
Paul Amy, Moorabbin Kingston Leader
July 3, 2020 9:00am
The last pin has been pulled onmetropolitan football for 2020.
As expected, the Southern league last night joined Eastern, Essendon District, Northern, Western Region and the VAFA in scrapping the season.
The board met last night and decided to abandon its effort to start the season on July 25.
A string of clubs had withdrawn and revised AFL Victoria protocols ruled out the possibility of crowds attending matches.
The men’s senior, reserve and thirds competitions, and the senior women’s section have been cancelled.
But Southern will try to get up Under 19s and netball.
In a statement this morning, SFNL CEO Lee Hartman said the league had worked closely with State and local government, AFL Victoria, the other metropolitan leagues and clubs to “explore a responsible way to proceed in 2020, against the challenging background of COVID-19’’.
“However, in light of the recent outbreaks and significantly increased number of positive COVID-19 cases recorded in Melbourne, it has become apparent that the health and safety risks have simply become too great to conduct any senior contact sporting competition in 2020,’’ he said.
“This decision has not been taken easily, but the overriding concern we have is for the health and wellbeing of our people and the importance of not compromising the quality of our football competitions.’’
He said the updated AFL Victoria return-to-play protocols relating to limited spectator numbers and change room capacity also contributed to the board’s decision.
“We thank all member clubs for their patience and understanding during this extremely difficult time with its constantly changing environment,’’ Hartman said.
“The board appreciates and has been galvanised by the level of constructive engagement, and
enduring commitment of officials at each club, but equally, to the league over recent months.’’
Southern will try to stage its Under 19 football and netball competitions in compliance with the AFL Victoria protocols and State Government COVID-19 restrictions.
“The board and administration will undertake a thorough risk assessment and collaborate with member clubs wishing to participate, to fully ensure that our youth age competition can be managed in a safe, and responsible manner, before making a final decision,’’ Hartman said.
“A similar position has been adopted by the board in relation to netball in 2020 for those clubs wishing to participate. Our ability to conduct games at a centralised venue under the Netball Victoria guidelines and State Government restrictions, makes the further consideration of this competition a realistic possibility.’’
Hartman said the league looked forward to welcoming back its 37 clubs in 2020.