WDFNL considers top-six finals series

THE Warrnambool and District Football Netball League could have a six-team finals series as early as next season.

League officials will ask clubs for their thoughts on adopting a new post-season model at a forum at the Alan Lane Community Centre next month.

The change, if endorsed, would be the biggest to the WDFNL season structure since Timboon Demons and Kolora-Noorat entered the competition in 2003.

WDFNL president Ken McSween said there would be extensive consultation with clubs about a new model before any change became a reality.

“Something as major as this we’d need club input before it goes ahead. There still needs to be a bit of homework done before we go to the clubs,” he said.

McSween said WDFNL executive members Andrew Thomson, Carey Hackett and Ken Knowles had proposed a new six-team, four-week finals model.

Under the mooted system, the opening week would feature just one match — a qualifying final between first and second.

Week two would have two elimination finals. Third would play sixth while fourth would meet fifth.

Two preliminary finals would highlight week three. The winner of the qualifying final would play the lowest-ranked winner of the elimination finals.

The loser of the qualifying final would come up against the highest-ranked winner of the two elimination finals.

The preliminary final winners then meet in the grand final, in week four. Such a system would not require a lengthening of the season.

McSween welcomed discussion about a potential change but was undecided about the need to have a sixth team in finals.

His only request was that the side which finished sixth had a decent chance of making the grand final.

“The only concern I probably have is making sure whatever system we have, you don’t end up down the same track the AFL is at the moment,” he said.

“They’ve got a final eight. If you finish outside the top four it’s virtually impossible (to win the premiership).

“I wouldn’t like to see a finals system in a manner that would grossly disadvantage you if you finished fifth or sixth.”

South Rovers’ senior footballers finished sixth in 2013. They were three games behind fifth but almost beat Panmure, Dennington, Merrivale and Allansford.

Coach Brendan Whelan said he supported a six-team finals series. He said the fixture had to be better balanced to ensure the sixth side deserved its spot.

“If it’s a top six or a top five, you want the best teams over the course of the year there, not an unbalanced spread of teams,” he said.

“Otherwise if it’s a top six it’s going to be very embarrassing for one team if they’re a long way off.

“I agree with the concept. Credit to the league for looking at different things.

“I really think they need to have a good look at the way they set the draw up and get it as right as they can.”

A new finals model also caught the interest of Nirranda A grade co-coach Bridget Foster.

“I’m so used to there only being the five, there’s been the five forever ... it’d be different,” she said.

“In the District league there are a lot more teams that are close. There could be six or seven teams in (contention) and most of the time it’s coming down to percentage.”

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