Local footy 2020: Melbourne’s metropolitan leagues scrap player payments
As community competitions await a return-to-play road map and prepare to make a decision on their seasons, three suburban leagues have made a significant step towards a return to the field.
For the love of the game.
Players from the metropolitan local leagues striving to get their seasons underway will play for nothing should the ball be bounced for 2020.
The Southern and Western Region competitions have joined the Essendon District league in setting their salary caps at zero.
While the Eastern and Northern leagues have scrapped their seasons, the SFNL, WRFL, EDFL and VAFA have given themselves until the week of June 22 to make a call.
Southern has told its clubs that all four divisions could potentially start on July 11, while the VAFA is aiming to start on July 25.
“After continuing consultation with clubs and working to produce the best chance for senior football to be played in 2020, the boards, management and clubs of the Southern Football Netball League, Western Region Football League and Essendon District Football League have agreed to play the 2020 season, should it proceed, with a $0 salary cap across all competitions,’’ the Southern, Western Region and Essendon District leagues said in a joint statement today.
“All three leagues have worked in a consultative manner to enable this to occur in the best interests of our clubs and the sustainability of the leagues and clubs involved.’’
Three-time Keilor premiership coach and Collingwood champion Mick McGuane backed the EDFL’s decision to scrap player payments.
McGuane said the sustainability of all clubs had to be top priority amid the coronavirus crisis.
EDFL chief executive Ian Kyte declared in a letter to club presidents last month: “The only basis that a season of senior football could commence would be on zero salary cap.”
“For the competition, we had to start the discussion at the club saying, ‘We can’t survive’,” McGuane said.
“Without that club, we’ve got no competition.
“We could play tomorrow and pay our players, but that doesn’t mean it’s right for the greater good of the competition.
“As much as we feel for our players during this time that they’re not getting remuneration for their services, we also understand … once we get back to normality, because we’ve sacrificed now for the greater good, you or the next player coming in can be of benefit in two or three years’ time.
“Greed can often kill. If we lose two or three clubs that try to remain viable … it just will destroy competitions.”
While many in local football are frustrated that neither AFL Victoria nor the State Government has outlined a return-to-play road map, the leagues are increasingly confident they’ll get on the ground – and with crowds.
“We’ll make our decision as late as possible if we need to,’’ SFNL chief executive Lee Hartman said.
“Obviously June 22 is coming around fairly quickly but it would be good to get something in place before then.’’
WRFL boss Matthew Duck said clarity around crowds and the workload for volunteers would determine if his clubs gave their tick of approval to a season.
Twenty-two of the league’s 25 senior clubs are in favour of playing.
“For the most part, our clubs remain hopeful of a season, but they are also keen to understand that attendance piece,” Duck said.
“That’s the recurring message that is being provided to us loud and clear.
“They want to understand any attendance restrictions and, if not more importantly, who the onus of responsibility to manage that sits with.
“Clearly in the public reserves where we play our footy, if a club is given the role of managing attendance numbers, it’s going to be difficult, if not nigh on impossible.’’
The leagues and AFL Victoria continue to work through a permit system to allow players from Eastern and Northern to joins other competitions.
But Hartman admitted he was against permits, preferring players to be cleared.
“To be honest, I’m not a big fan of a permit,’’ Hartman said.
“If players want to come to our league they should have to transfer and leave their original club.
“We tried as a state to get the transfers shut down before any leagues made a decision, but it didn’t happen. Now they’ll be open to June 30 and there’s work going on for a permit system.
“I just don’t think it’s fair that players from leagues that have actually shut down can come into our clubs, play nine games and still be registered with their former clubs. I’d like to see them transfer in, be a part of that club, pay membership, and then if they want to transfer back, they can do so. But I’m one-out on this, by the way.’’
After continuing consultation with Clubs and working to produce the best chance for senior football to be played in 2020, the Boards, Management and Clubs of the Southern Football Netball League, Western Region Football League and Essendon District Football League have agreed to play the 2020 season, should it proceed, with a $0 Salary Cap across all competitions. All three Leagues have worked in a consultative manner to enable this to occur in the best interests of our Clubs and the sustainability of the Leagues and Clubs involved.