Majority of Bellarine clubs against Suns entry

May 23, 2024 12:00 pm in by

If Bellarine clubs are asked to vote on Surf Coast’s admission to the competition when they meet with AFL Barwon next Wednesday, eight clubs will reject the Suns’ application.

In a poll of club presidents conducted by K rock Football, with answers provided under the condition of anonymity, only two said they would vote in favour of expanding to 11 clubs.

If the Suns were admitted, the BFNL would become an 11-team competition for the first time, the first change to the competition’s structure since Modewarre’s entry in 1996.

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AFL Barwon boss Ed Wilson says the local governing body is keen to understand why there is such strong opposition to Surf Coast’s entry.

“We’ve got to understand the why,” he said. “Is it maybe to do with fixturing concerns? Is it maybe to do with gate revenue? Canteen revenue?

“What’s the ‘why’ that sits behind that decision? Because, like a lot of things, they can be worked through.

“Or, you can find ways to stop, maybe, what could be a perceived challenge from transpiring.

“If we took things on the surface, then we would never be able to overcome what the challenges are for clubs.

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“And it’s important as part of this process that we understand what their concerns are.”

As K rock Football revealed on Thursday morning, AFL Barwon’s plans for a 12-team BFNL were halted when an application from the so-called ‘mystery’ 12th club was withdrawn earlier this week.

However, Surf Coast’s entry process will continue. On Monday night, the Suns will meet with the AFL Barwon Commission before the meeting with the BFNL clubs.

Wilson, who has conceded the process has taken longer than expected, says there is no timeline for a decision on Surf Coast’s admission but expects an outcome as soon as practical following Wednesday night.

“The Commission is prepped that they need to digest the conversations that we have with the Bellarine clubs next Wednesday night to ensure that we can have a decision quickly,” he said.

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“We know once clubs have certainty of what the future looks like, that allows everyone to plan accordingly.

“We’re pretty keen, not only from a Surf Coast and Bellarine standpoint but an AFL Barwon perspective, to lock this in as soon as possible.”

Wilson says AFL Barwon will put aside its search for a 12th club to focus on Surf Coast’s situation.

“It’s too early to say if that club or another club would entertain an opportunity for the future,” he said.

“We think it’s important we’ve gone through a due process.

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“If we were to embark on a secondary call for applications or start looking for a second club to join the Bellarine, we would want to be informing the Bellarine clubs of that first as part of our ongoing consulting with them.

“(But), not at this time. That would be very much against the approach we’ve been taking.”

Suggestions Surf Coast should approach the Geelong and District League for entry have been rejected by Wilson.

He says their sheer size—they are the 12th biggest club across the AFL Barwon region in terms of football and netball teams entered—makes the Bellarine the appropriate competition for the Suns.

If admitted, Surf Coast would be the first club since St Leonards in 1985 to begin open football competition in the BFNL.

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“It needs to be in a league that promotes growth. It needs to be in a league that promotes opportunities for those within,” Wilson said.

“There’s also got to be other considerations, including geographical, that go into as well.

“Surf Coast has expressed to AFL Barwon that they want to see themselves come into a competition structure within AFL Barwon.”

X: @krockfootball