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The East Gippsland Football Netball League has announced the cancellation of their 2020 season.

They are officially the first league based in the Greater Gippsland region to do so, citing Covid-19 restrictions as the contributing factors behind the abandonment.

The announcement was made by most of the league’s clubs via social media after a Zoom meeting on the night of Wednesday, June 24th.

The media release on the EGFNL website states the following:

The Board of Football Netball East Gippsland wishes to announce the decision to cancel the East Gippsland Football Netball League senior football and senior netball home and away competitions for season 2020.

This decision includes the following football grades (seniors, reserves and under 17’s), as well as the following netball grades (A grade, B grade, C grade, D grade, 17 and under and 15 and under).

In a recent survey the member clubs voted unanimously not to proceed with the 2020 season. The member clubs based their decision on current information available from the Chief Medical Officer, the Victorian Government and AFL Victoria/Netball Victoria.

Concerns raised by the member clubs included uncertainty around a clear path back to return to play, uncertainty around how to generate revenue without the opening of bars and canteens-including social functions, the burden placed on volunteers, the inability to effectively manage crowds to comply with the State Government restrictions, health concerns with COVID-19 and varying financial implications.

The League will now work with the member clubs with the 2021 season in mind. It is going to be a massive struggle for some member clubs to attract sponsorship, given the hardship all local businesses and industries have entailed during 2020. As a Board we are committed to ensuring we have all eight member clubs playing in 2021.

I would like to pass on my wholehearted thanks to all our member clubs, their tireless volunteers and our umpiring association for their support and efforts over this
challenging COVID-19 period and the bushfires that preceded this.

Andrew Powell

President - Football Netball East Gippsland

The media release also states a decision on Junior football (EGJFA) will be made Thursday night (25th June) after a meeting with the club presidents.

Traditional rivals Lakes Entrance and Orbost-Snowy Rovers will not do battle again until 2021. Photo: Andrew Lindsay

Boisdale-Briagolong FNC president Ryan Evans expressed both disappointment and understanding in the announcement, but followed up with enthusiasm for the 2021 season.

“We just can’t see restrictions being lifted any time soon with cases in Melbourne going up in recent weeks.”

“We were really keen to return to the field, but given the current climate the club made a unanimous decision to not go ahead with the season and take the uncertainty out of the situation so we can start planning for next year.”

“Obviously there is the issue of crowd restrictions having an impact on money coming into the club through the gate, bar and canteen. But it is also about the social activities of community footy and netball. If we can’t get together as teams and members after games, it takes away half of what football & netball clubs are all about.”

“There has been some crazy decisions we have had to make. But we can now look forward to 2021.”

FNEG President Andrew Powell shared similar sentiments:

“The decision was unanimous across all clubs to cancel the 2020 season. I was a little bit surprised as I thought one or two clubs may have been keen to keep going.”

“The junior competition looks more promising to get a season started. It will depend on how the clubs feel they can manage Covid-19 club protocols.”

When asked if he thought there was any hope of the season getting up for the senior competition, Powell was honest in his response.

“No. I didn’t think there would be a season. About a month ago, one club indicated they were not interested in taking part in this season no matter what decisions were made.”

“Obviously the drought is still going, so who knows when that will finish. Then we had the bush fires, now with this Covid-19 situation who knows what is going to happen. There is not a 100% understanding of it at the moment and until there is we are all left guessing as to what is going to happen.”

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