THE AFL has turned its back on grassroots football, according to the presidents of two south-west clubs.
Terang Mortlake president David Roberts said the cost of being affiliated with the AFL was continuing to rise, but clubs were receiving little to no benefit.
"As far as I'm concerned the AFL couldn't care less about country footy," Roberts said.
He said the cost for leagues to be under the AFL umbrella was about four times as high as running the competition themselves.
"Ball park figures it's probably four times the cost and we're probably not getting four times the support," Roberts said.
"The AFL can make $6 billion and play games in China but they can't help us."
Roberts said the AFL should support country leagues, in particular those in the south-west.
"There's a lot of players that have come out of the Hampden footy league or this region and played AFL," he said.
"If they don't start helping country clubs they won't be getting those players from down here."
Merrivale president Russell Gleeson said there was a general feeling that the AFL profits were not passed on to country leagues.
"The money they generate is not passed on to grassroots footy," he said.
Gleeson said clubs were struggling with rising costs, including the fees associated with being affiliated with the AFL.
"There's an extra cost that we never had to bear before and we don't think we're getting any benefit from it," he said.
"The cost of everything is going up - even the cost of a pie before you put it in the pie heater is going up and then the cost of electricity to heat it up is going up."
Gleeson said he had heard a lot of "grumbling" from other clubs in the south-west about country footy's ties to the AFL.
"There has to be changes," he said.
Their comments come as a growing number of members of football clubs call for the creation of a governing body to oversee country leagues.
Gleeson said he believed this was worth exploring.
Former Gippsland AFL commission John White has written to Sport Minister Martin Pakula and started an online petition asking him to appoint an independent body.
His terms of reference state the AFL is out of tune with community expectations and is failing to provide leadership, direction and education to rural and community clubs.
White also states the AFL is driving costs up, which cannot be sustained by rural and community football/netball clubs.
"The AFL fails to adequately fund community football/netball clubs from the $50.4 million profit it made in 2018," he states.
White said the AFL did not consult and hear the "voice of the bush".
"All members of football/netball clubs need to push for a better outcome from AFL Victoria," he said.
White said country leagues had a right to a better outcome.
You can sign the petition here.
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