A Hampden league club has quashed speculation surrounding its future and a possible merger with a rival club.
Koroit - the reigning premier in both senior netball and football - released a statement to its members confirming it was "business as usual".
It highlighted the "rumour mill" which was in overdrive as the region's football and netball landscape comes under the microscope due to a fall in player and volunteer numbers.
"I can say straight off the bat there has not been any discussions with Port Fairy and last week their committee voted that they would not talk to any clubs at this point in time," the Koroit statement said.
"There have not been any discussions occurring in the background whatsoever with any clubs and it is not on our radar to initiate any."
The Standard contacted Port Fairy, which went scoreless in it senior football game on Saturday, for comment.
Koroit president Steve Hoy told The Standard it was best to "clear the air".
"It's really a non-story - they're not talking to us and we're not talking to them," he said.
"It was people jumping to conclusions and assumptions and started somewhere.
"I have had people from other clubs asking the question and they're hearing it so it was best we let our members, players and coaches know it's just a non-story, there's nothing happening in that space.
"It just seemed to be gathering some momentum so we thought we'd clear the air."
Ensuring its members were kept abreast of any potential impacts was a key for Koroit.
"At the end of the day, if anything of that magnitude did happen, it would be up to our members to decide," Hoy said.
"But as I said, there's nothing happening. It would be quite a long and open process if something like that were to occur but ultimately it would come down to our members."
Hoy said the Saints knew they needed to be proactive to maintain their playing numbers and had reintroduced school clinics with players this year and offered free entry to students.
"We're fortunate Koroit is a growing town and we can see that by the developments," he said.
"You have to go to where your next crop of players and families are, they're not necessarily going to come to you and you need to build that relationship.
"We're happy we've been proactive in that space."
Hoy said Koroit understood country sport was in the midst of a difficult period.
The Saints had a discussion session a few weeks ago "for people to have some input" which was forwarded to the league as part of the AFL Western District discussion panel.
"We tabled everyone's ideas. We forwarded that to the league as our contribution at this stage," he said.
"Reserves football numbers are a concern but they're a concern for a number of leagues and teams."
Hoy said it was "a critical time for leagues and clubs" and "we have to be prepared for change".
"We have to make sure we have pathways for kids at the higher level as well as for the kids around participation and family involvement," he said.
"You could imagine any community without their local club would be hugely impacted.
"We have to accept change is coming and we need to embrace it. No doubt COVID has sped things up but we need to look at how we can do things better and keep things viable."
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