WARRNAMBOOL and District Football Netball League (WDFNL) clubs may have to supply their own umpires at senior level as a shortage in umpiring ranks begins to bite.
The Warrnambool and District Football Umpires Association (WDFUA) has advised the league it may not be able to provide two central umpires for at least one senior match per round and also expected a shortage of goal umpires and boundary umpires across the season.
WDFUA director of umpiring Arno Pennings said with the Hamilton and district umpiring association withdrawing its support of the league, added pressure had been placed on his association.
“We’ve had a look at our list for the year and there is a high possibility, depending on availability and other factors, that we will be short of central umpires for at least one game a week,” he said.
“It’s not just confined to the WDFNL seniors, it will also have an impact on Hampden league under 18s and juniors.
“Our biggest shortfall though is boundary umpires. At this stage it looks as though there will be two to three senior WDFNL matches a week we won’t be able to officiate. We will also fall short of goal umpires.”
The league and umpires association met on Monday night to nut out a contingency for the situation if central umpires were in short supply.
Pennings said the plan involved spreading umpires over two games.
“Hopefully it won’t come to it, but if we are two umpires short we will split that shortage across two games,” he said. “So there will be at least one association member as well as a club-supplied umpire officiating each match.
“We’ll do the same with the goal umpires if required.”
WDFNL president Ken McSween said clubs had been made aware of the shortage, and the league would work with the umpires’ association and clubs to ensure the arrangements were fair.
“We want to be as smart as possible to spread it around to make sure there aren’t clubs that are having to supply officials every week,” he said.
“It’s our preference to have at least one association umpire per game. We will work with the league to come up with a roster or schedule to make sure it’s worked out evenly.
“There is always going to be a perception that club umpires will favour their own team, but I’m sure club umpires will officiate in a fair and just manner.”
Pennings said nine people had shown interest at an umpiring open day last weekend.
“If we can get them over the line, it may help the situation,” he said.
“This isn’t just a problem that we are facing, it’s a statewide issue, everyone is getting older. It’s not a decision we’ve taken lightly.”