League signs deal Picola season to start as planned - Oliver Caffrey

March 17, 2017

Cobram's Greg Watmore has resigned from his role with the Picola District Football Netball Club.

The status quo will remain for local football in the Goulburn Murray region.

There will be no breakaway league and the Picola District Football Netball League season is set to go ahead as planned after its board voted to sign an affiliation agreement with AFL Goulburn Murray.

The only major change out of all this will be the PDFNL being part of the Community Club Sustainability Program, taking on the player points system for this season.

The extraordinary saga was put to bed on Friday morning when league president Denis Brooks issued a statement confirming the board’s final call.

‘‘In forming its decision, the PDFNL board considered feedback provided by all 17 PDFNL clubs, the time frame of the impending start of the 2017 season and the potential impacts on the 2017 season,’’ the statement said.

‘‘As such, the PDFNL have agreed to affiliate with AFL GM for the 2017 season and looks forward to collaboratively negotiating with AFL GM on concerns raised by the PDFNL clubs for affiliation beyond 2017.’’

The league’s board met on Thursday night ahead of the extended deadline set by AFL Goulburn Murray to sign the affiliation agreement, or be cut off from all the benefits of AFL Victoria.

A ‘‘strong majority’’ of clubs pushed for PDFNL to affiliate with AFL Goulburn Murray.

Brooks said a high number of clubs pushed for it to happen knowing the affiliation agreement was only for 12 months.

‘‘Our clubs have given us a clear direction on where we need to go as a league and they want us to jump on board because it is one year and we can see how it pans out,’’ he said.

Brooks said the league and AFL Goulburn Murray would be working with clubs to help them better understand the player points system, which comes into effect this season as a result of affiliating.

Both AFL GM and the PDFNL agreed there needed to be a better relationship between the two organisations in the future.

AFL Goulburn Murray general manager Martin Gleeson hoped that with the league signing the affiliation agreement, it would be the start of better times ahead.

‘‘We’re glad that it has been resolved. We acknowledge the work of clubs in all this and that the board has listened to the clubs,’’ Gleeson said.

‘‘It’s a good outcome and everyone is just looking forward to focusing on football.’’

Brooks said it was not good for anyone to have the sort of animosity between the two parties that had been on display.

‘‘We’ve got to improve these relationships (with AFL Goulburn Murray), we all know that.

‘‘There’s got to be a better relationship with AFL GM and we’re working on that ... there have been some good conversations (last week).

‘‘We’ll organise a meeting somewhere along the line and try to make sure things are much better.’’

The PDFNL also announced a partnership with Bendigo Bank on Friday for the next two seasons.

Every league in the state will now be part of the CCSP after the PDFNL had previously resisted to adopt the sustainability measures set out by AFL Victoria.

A decision in October from the PDFNL to take on the player points system was quickly reversed.

The PDFNL wanted to start off with 35 points for its clubs and not adopt the salary cap, causing further tension between the league and AFL Goulburn Murray.

But part of the affiliation agreement means bringing in the points system for this season, with the league’s cap to be set at 48.

However, Gleeson said clubs could apply through AFL Victoria for extra points.

‘‘The maximum points is 48, but if clubs feel like they’re going to be above that figure and they feel that number is not manageable for them, then they can take it to AFL Victoria. Locally we can’t give out more than that.

‘‘We can’t un-recruit players, so any player that’s already been recruited by clubs will need to be accommodated on a list.’’

Although the PDFNL will not have a salary cap figure in place this season, Gleeson said clubs needed to be organised with player payments and prepare themselves for next year when it was formally in place.

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