WESTERN Border Football League (WBFL) chief executive David Heard has thrown his support behind a six-team competition, taking a swipe at outgoing clubs and the Victorian Country Football League in the process.
Portland, Hamilton and Hamilton Imperials will join the Hampden league in 2013, as recommended in a Southern Border Review into country football in the south-west.
The clubs’ decision to switch leagues has left Casterton as the only Victorian-based club in the WBFL.
Hamilton and Hamilton Imperials will enter the HFNL as a single entity.
Heard said the WBFL management believed six clubs was a viable option.
“The key ingredient to future success is not worrying about a particular number. It is all about getting the right balance, both in a geographic and competition structure sense,” he said.
“What’s the point of having nine, 10 or even 11 clubs if the ‘bottom group’ is never going to be competitive on a consistent basis?
“It seems that some administrators in ‘survival mode’ believe the best option is to waste outrageous amounts of money on ‘fly-ins’ that will ‘fly out’ just as quickly.
“We are focused on identifying growth streams, believing that money could be better utilised on junior development and providing structured lines of succession at club and league levels.
“We have outstanding participation numbers in our junior ranks, and in harmony with the South Australia Community Football League, we will be relentless in the pursuit of changing existing governance laws to protect the significant investment made by our clubs in player development from the poison of predatory influences.”
Heard said the WBFL would run under 15, under 17, reserve and senior grade competitions on Saturdays next season, with a junior Sunday competition to continue.
Age groups for that competition are yet to be determined.
Heard said playing four grades of football on Saturdays was a “very exciting chapter in the history of our league”.
“The clubs that have chosen to defect from our network over the past two years may not realise it, but they have provided the remaining clubs with an outstanding opportunity to forge their own destiny, free from the encumbrance of certain sectors consistently trying to undermine our operations,” he said.
He said an under 17 competition was a common-sense decision.
“It is fair to say most South Australian-based WBFL clubs have struggled in recent seasons with numbers at under 18 level,” he said.
“As is the case with any significant change to competition structure, compromises were made by some stakeholders, but the evidence provided indicated this is the best fit for our league heading forward.”