WARRNAMBOOL and District Football Netball League officials say they would welcome Port Fairy joining their competition.
President Justin Balmer said yesterday the league would support an application for the Seagulls to enter the WDFNL in season 2013.
The open-arms verdict comes as Port Fairy officials meet tonight to discuss the club’s long-term future.
The Seagulls committee will discuss the options of applying to play in the WDFNL, merging with another club or remaining in the Hampden league.
Balmer said the WDFNL executive had canvassed clubs’ thoughts about expansion while preparing its submission for the Southern Border Review.
He said clubs backed a 13-team WDFNL, despite it meaning two byes per club each season.
Balmer stressed that league executives had not approached Port Fairy about shifting leagues and expansion discussions were not framed around luring the Seagulls from the Hampden league.
“When we made our initial submission to the review we spoke to our clubs and we didn’t have a problem increasing the number of sides in the league,” he said.
“We’d prefer not to have a bye so if you get one you’d want two.
“If we got one we’d obviously deal with one. But we’re not allowed to approach anybody.
“We’re prepared to take more teams. If people express an interest in coming, we’d be more than happy to talk to them.”
Balmer said Port Fairy would have to field five football teams — one less than they do now — and six netball teams to play in the WDFNL.
“The big attraction of our league our clubs find is everything is played on the one day, it’s not spread over Saturday and Sunday,” he said.
A 13-team WDFNL received support from club presidents yesterday, although others would not comment until the week’s events unfolded.
Nirranda president Anthony Foster said he wanted to see Port Fairy make a decision that was in the best interests of football and the club.
He said he had no concerns about a bye in the WDFNL fixture if it meant football and netball in the region benefited.
“If it’s good for footy and it’s keeping kids off the streets, they’re the first priorities,” he said.
Foster, who dealt with Port Fairy as president of Cobden in the late 1990s, said he had “great admiration for the club and what they’ve tried to do”.
“From my experience at Cobden I found them a great club to work with, great people, great facilities and a lot of history involved,” he said.
“Whatever their committee decides to do, they have Nirranda’s full support.”