WE want more clubs.
That was the message the Hampden Football Netball League delivered to a Victorian Country Football League panel in Warrnambool yesterday.
A three-member HFNL delegation met members of the Southern Football Review team for almost an hour at a city motel yesterday afternoon.
President Bob Guiney, vice president Peter Manoel and chief executive officer Mike Farrow presented the HFNL’s expansion case at a closed meeting in Warrnambool’s Olde Maritime Motor Inn.
Outside, the trio said that at the panel’s request they were not permitted to talk publicly about their submission until the review panel had finished meeting with stakeholders next month.
But earlier yesterday, hours before the HFNL met the panel, sources confirmed to The Standard the HFNL intended pushing two major points — expansion and its support for a central administration hub. Both issues have been on the HFNL’s agenda for a considerable time, especially its desire for more teams, which stretches back more than 20 years.
Unlike the Warrnambool and District league, which has consulted with its clubs on the content of its submission, the Hampden league executive opted not to involve its clubs, so it didn’t influence the views of clubs. The Standard understands the HFNL did not make a written submission yesterday, favouring a verbal pitch.
The review, set up to assess the existing structure of competitions, has the potential to reshape the football landscape in south-west Victoria and south-east South Australia.
The review was announced last year after the Mount Gambier-based Western Border league, followed by support from the Warrnambool-based Hampden league, called for a broader look at the sustainability of competitions.
That came after Heywood left the Western Border league for the South West District league and another Western Border club, Hamilton Imperials, made what turned out to be an unsuccessful fifth bid to join the Hampden competition.
The VCFL and the South Australian Community Football League set up a joint panel to work out the best competition structure for the future, with the major focus being the Western Border league.
Four Victorian Country Football League representatives, football operations department manager Brett Connell, affiliate development and facilities department manager Shayne Ward, football operations and commerical co-ordinator Will McGregor and south-west area manager Brett Anderson, made up the panel in Warrnambool yesterday.
VCFL chief Steven Reaper, who is a member of the panel, was unable to attend the Warrnambool sittings.
The panel heard from the Hampden league executive and six clubs yesterday: South Warrnambool, Nirranda, Deakin University, Terang Mortlake, North Warrnambool Eagles and South Rovers.
Hearings continue today with Kolora-Noorat, Koroit, Port Fairy, Dennington, Panmure and Cobden. The three-day sitting finishes tomorrow with Allansford, Timboon Demons, Old Collegians, Warrnambool, Camperdown and the Warrnambool and District league executive.
Anderson said members of the review panel had met clubs in Mount Gambier, Hamilton and Portland in the past month and would hold a sitting in Lake Bolac to cater for Mininera and District league clubs in a couple of weeks.
He said 70 interested clubs, leagues or groups from western Victoria and the south-east of South Australia had registered to meet with the panel before June 30.
He said a preliminary plan would be developed by July 30. The review panel has allowed for a month of feedback and consultation on the draft, with a final report handed down by September 14.
He said the panel’s recommendations were for the 2013 season.