It is the email that has rocked the Picola District Football Netball League.
The only competition in Victoria to have not adopted the Community Club Sustainability Program has been given an ultimatum by AFL Goulburn Murray: Sign an agreement by Monday or be cut off from AFL Victoria and risk a rival competition being set up.
PDFNL president Denis Brooks could not understand why AFL Goulburn Murray wanted to intervene in such a dramatic way.
‘‘Our league has better things to do than worry about all of this ... it’s simply a blight on football,’’ Brooks said.
‘‘Just let people get on with playing football. Our league might not be perfect, but we’ve got good numbers in football and netball teams, good numbers coming through our gates and we just want to get on with the game.’’
The board met last night to discuss the stunning developments.
Brooks said a meeting involving club presidents was proposed for Thursday, which was expected to decide the league’s future direction.
‘‘We (the board) have to make the final decision, but we’ll be consulting with clubs and discussions have been going on since Friday when we received the email,’’ Brooks said.
‘‘I’m sure we’ll have clubs with varying views on what should happen, but the points system and the salary cap has always been a viable option for us, we just wanted the opportunity to discuss things with (AFL Goulburn Murray and the commission) first before jumping into it.
‘‘We’ve never had the opportunity to negotiate properly ... they (AFL Goulburn Murray) can say they’ve offered to meet us, but we would’ve had to agree to major things before meetings and that’s not right.
‘‘We’ve got concerns with our small community clubs and we’ve had concerns with aspects of documents from AFL Goulburn Murray that we would totally lose power and authority.’’
A detailed letter from AFL Goulburn Murray general manager Martin Gleeson was sent to Brooks late on Friday.
Brooks said it was not realistic to adopt the player points system so close to the league’s season starting on April 1.
‘‘I’ve always said to Martin (Gleeson) that we’d be looking at bringing in the CCSP by 2018, I can’t say it would happen for sure, but that was my gut feeling,’’ Brooks said.
‘‘But we can’t be expected to be changing to the points system now because it would affect so many people, not just including our leagues and our clubs, but other leagues.
‘‘We thought it’d be best to make a decision in July after clearances have closed so clubs wouldn’t be affected by recruiting decisions already made.’’
The PDFNL has taken issue with a number of clauses in AFL Goulburn Murray’s affiliation agreement, including being locked in to be administered by the regional administration centre at Kialla by 2019.
A breakaway competition was not something Gleeson wanted, but he said it could happen if the PDFNL did not fall in line with the rest of the state.
Gleeson was confident another league could be formed in time for this year, despite the PDFNL’s season due to start on April 1.
‘‘It’s not our preferred position at all,’’ Gleeson said.
‘‘But if PDFNL clubs don’t agree with the position their board has taken and want to receive the benefits of an affiliation agreement, then we’d be negligent in our duty if we didn’t provide them with an alternative option.’’
AFL Victoria announced in December that all community football leagues must sign affiliation agreements.
The PDFNL was the only league in Victoria not to have adopted the sustainability measures.
Gleeson emailed Brooks on Friday explaining the league would not have access to insurance, website databases and any support from AFL Goulburn Murray and AFL Victoria, among other things.
The email was also addressed to league clubs detailing an option for a new competition, to be run by AFL Goulburn Murray, if the PDFNL did not sign the agreement by Monday.
‘‘The email on Friday was confirming what they’ve already told us, that they won’t affiliate with us,’’ Gleeson said.
‘‘We’re not cutting them off, they’re choosing to miss out by not signing up.’’
Gleeson said on Monday he had not spoken to any clubs about forming a new league, he was only offering them an alternative.
‘‘That’s in the hands of the clubs, they control their own destiny,’’ Gleeson said.
‘‘We’re not going out actively recruiting clubs, we need to provide them a safeguard for them to have access to all the benefits they currently have, if the PDFNL chooses not to sign the agreement.’’
The Murray Football League has not signed an agreement, but Gleeson was confident the league would do so before the start of the season, as discussions had been positive.
‘‘They haven’t shown any suggestion that they’re not going to sign it,’’ Gleeson said.
‘‘We’ve got a meeting booked in with them in a few weeks and there’s been no resistance from them to go with it.’’
Gleeson said players who had already been cleared from PDFNL clubs to other leagues would still be only worth one point this year in the player points system.
‘‘You can’t undo what’s been done and award retrospective points because players have already been recruited to other leagues thinking they are only worth one point,’’ he said.
‘‘It’s outlined in the documentation that PDFL clubs would have the maximum points in the state of 48 if they are to be in the system.’’