MICHAEL Harrison says the Warrnambool and District league is "headed in the right direction" despite reverting to a 10-team competition for the first time in 16 years.
The league boasted 12 teams as recently as 2016 but will now field 10 with both East Warrnambool and Deakin University in recess.
But Harrison, who will finish as president at the league's annual general meeting this month, said it was in a strong position.
When you look at other clubs who have gone in to recess, not many have had a plan.Michael Harrison
He said the board had steadied finances and had the league on an upwards trajectory.
"The board took on a fair bit this year. A lot of things have changed," Harrison said.
"We've changed the way we go about things financially and the governance we've introduced has certainly improved aspects of where we're heading.
"Financially we're back on track. I believe we had a good season.
"Finals numbers increased, sponsorship increased, and we've worked hard to have good governance."
Harrison, who is also the general manager of the Warrnambool and District Cricket Association, said the league would continue to support East Warrnambool through its two-year recess.
A member vote at the Bombers' annual general meeting on Monday sent the 112-year-old club to a two-year spell on the sidelines.
A volunteer shortage, uncertainty surrounding the $7 million Reid Oval development and a lack of junior players was behind the decision.
"The board will support any club (in the league), regardless of who they are," he said.
"In this case, it's East Warrnambool. We're very happy they have a plan and when you look at other clubs who have gone in to recess around the state, not many have had a plan.
"East, to their credit, are putting a plan in place and they will function as a social club while they're in recess.
"That will give them an avenue to raise money for the next 18 months or so. That is moving in the right direction."
AFL Western District chairman Gerard Lucas said East Warrnambool's plight was being felt by club's around the state.
He applauded the Reid Oval-based club's planning and bid to survive in an off-field capacity.
"It's sad to see a club go in to recess but we're gratified they have plans to sustain themselves," Lucas told The Standard.
"It will be difficult for them, there's no doubt. It's difficult when your players disperse but we hope they can keep them together with social functions." Lucas pledged the commission's "full support" to East.
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