PORT Fairy and Merrivale have been cleared of any wrongdoing after money was used to broker a player transfer.
The Victorian Country Football League (VCFL) yesterday ruled it would take no action against either club following the clearance of Port midfielder Sam Dwyer to Merrivale last week.
It emerged on the weekend that Merrivale had agreed to a request to pay Port Fairy $1000 to end the protracted clearance dispute over Dwyer, who despite being contracted to the Seagulls for 2012, wanted a move to the Tigers. Under VCFL rules, transfer fees are banned.
The Warrnambool and District Football Netball League had referred the matter to the VCFL after becoming aware of the deal.
But VCFL south-west area manager Brett Anderson said the payment did not constitute a transfer fee.
“We determined it was a contract release situation and it is a matter between the two clubs,” Anderson said. He said the VCFL believed Merrivale should honour the payment despite cancelling the cheque after the Warrnambool and District Football Netball League urged it to, fearing it had breached rules.
Anderson said the VCFL wanted the matter resolved and made the interpretation in the interests of the game.
“If we did not (see it that way), the player is going to stand out of football and that is no good for anyone.”
He said transfer fees were sometimes used when contracts weren’t in place but in this case, Merrivale was buying out the contract. Anderson indicated the practice had been done by other clubs.
Port Fairy president Mick Finnigan said the Seagulls were upset the issue had become public.
“As a club we are disappointed the way it has been managed,” he said. “We feel we are getting kicked in the guts. We feel we are getting a full back page story on something that we have been cleared of.
“I think the district league and its president Justin Balmer should have had more consultation with the Hampden league and all parties before this got to this stage. It concerns no one else but the two clubs.
“I think Justin owes us an apology for not going through the right channels. It could have been worked out in a couple of phone calls, not through a big story in the paper.”
Balmer said his responsibility was to his clubs and all he had done was refer the matter to the VCFL.
“I would do the same again. The matter has been resolved quickly,” he said. “I didn’t cast any aspersions on Port Fairy. The district league just wanted the VCFL to rule on it.”
Merrivale president Paul Fish said the Tigers would honour the payment.
“We are glad it’s finished and we want to get on with playing footy,” Fish said.