HAMPDEN Football Netball League has formulated a plan for finals qualification after at least four rounds of its original 18-round season were lost to COVID-19 lockdowns.
It was also decided, after a request from a football club, to stick with a three-player bench this weekend rather than add a fourth footballer following a two-week break and interruptions to training programs.
Finals eligibility for senior football is usually four home-and-away games while netball is a combined 20 quarters.
Competition will resume with round 11 on Saturday - without fans due to statewide restrictions - with the potential for four rounds in total before finals start on Saturday, August 28.
League media liaison officer Troy Logan said it had discussed the unusual set of circumstances with clubs and made a decision on 2021 finals criteria.
"Given there is no certainty how many games will be played, finals eligibility will operate on a pro-rata basis," he said.
"Should senior football play the 14 rounds, this will work out to be three games to qualify.
"If we play 14 games (in the netball), under the pro-rata system players would have to take to the court for a combined 16 quarters in open, division one, division two or division three to be eligible to play finals."
Logan said a request to have four on the bench in this weekend's senior matches was discussed.
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"It was put to the executive, we went to the clubs to get their feedback and essentially we considered all that feedback and executive put it to a vote," he said.
"The outcome was we'd stick with the current ruling of 21 players including three on the bench this weekend."
He said "not all clubs were supportive" of adding a fourth player to the interchange.
"It throws in some challenges," Logan said.
"Some clubs have challenges with reserves numbers.
"There was a range of things considered and we acknowledged to the clubs that both sides of the argument were valid."
South Warrnambool coach Mat Battistello said his club was "a little perplexed" it was not granted.
He said his understanding was a majority of coaches were for the extra player on the bench.
"We requested from a risk management, injury prevention (perspective) given we'd had one training session in three weeks and league have asked us to play. We would have loved to have an extra on the bench given every other major league has four on the bench," Battistello said.
"When we say clubs need to adapt, hopefully the league can jump on the back of that and be as adaptable to the changing conditions as well.
"I think it would have been a better spectacle when you've got fresher, fitter players on the ground."
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