WESTERN Border Football League boss David Heard says he is open minded about change to the football landscape on the Victorian-South Australian border.
Heard yesterday broke the WBFL’s silence following the release of the long-awaited Southern Border Review this week.
The review recommended WBFL clubs Hamilton and Hamilton Imperials merge, and left the door open for Portland to shift into the Hampden league.
The recommendations, if adopted by clubs, could leave the WBFL with as few as six clubs. Heard admitted six was too few for the major league of south-east South Australia.
He said the 17-page document contained few surprises, but he was not critical of the review panel: “I would avoid making any emotional comment”.
“If I could make one comment about a surprise omission, there doesn’t seem to be much detail outlining the actual district leagues themselves and the possible impact on the district leagues,” he said.
“Other than that it was pretty much what we expected.”
The future structure of the WBFL — without both Hamilton clubs — was the most detailed element of the review. It raised the possibility of district league clubs Port MacDonnell, Penola and Naracoorte entering the league.
The premiers of two neighbouring district leagues could also enter the league on an annual basis.
But the biggest surprise was a recommendation for a fifth club in Mount Gambier to play in the WBFL, which Heard said “came from left field”.
Heard said the league would wait until clubs had responded to the review before considering the future make-up of the WBFL.
He said the notion of a fifth club in Mount Gambier was intriguing but “a difficult sell”.
“While it sounds unrealistic there might be some substance to it,” he said.
“It wouldn’t be a matter of establishing a senior club immediately, you would have to work on the juniors with the view of in five years’ time a fifth senior club might be ready to go.”
Heard said he would not be bitter if clubs left the WBFL if it was for the betterment of football in the region.
“We want the best outcome for the game of football,” he said.
“It’s not really about the leagues or even the clubs — the clubs are important but it’s more about the game itself.
“We’ve got to get the best possible fit for everybody.”