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No restructure involvement for GDFNL

December 6, 2023 1:35 pm in by
Inverleigh celebrates winning the 2023 GDFNL premiership. (Sports Media image/Marcel Berens)

GDFNL president Neville Whitley says his clubs are “unanimous in staying as we are” and won’t be part of AFL Barwon’s proposed restructure of local football and netball.

However, the local governing body hopes the final framework for a planned divisional structure presented at a third forum at Buckleys on Tuesday night will provide more substance for GDFNL clubs to consider.

Whitley, who is entering his 40th season as GDFNL president, did reveal some of his clubs showed interest in the concept.

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“Some of our clubs had discussions (with AFL Barwon) early on in the piece but didn’t go any further with it,” he said following last night’s forum.

“East Geelong was one of them. They wrote back to AFL Barwon and told them what they thought.”

AFL Barwon boss Ed Wilson says they want to continue discussions with the GDFNL and its clubs.

“We want to understand where they see themselves fitting within this model,” he said. “They’re just as important as the Geelong and Bellarine clubs.

“For the GDFNL clubs we’ve spoken to to date, they’ve been very open in sharing their current positions – what’s working well for them in their current league but also where their challenges lie as well.

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“The breadth of feedback we’ve received has been pretty diverse across the GDFNL clubs, and we’ve been very pleased with the conversations that we’ve had with them to date.

“That puts us in a position where they’re open to engage with us and consider whether or not they fit within the model.

“Those conversations are definitely still open, and we encourage that ongoing engagement.” 

The structure proposed includes three tiers.

Premier Division and Division 1 would feature ten teams and Division 2 eight teams for a total of 28.

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With the Geelong and Bellarine Leagues combined comprised of 22 clubs, AFL Barwon would need six more clubs to reach that figure.

“What we’ve presented is our ideal model,” AFL Barwon commissioner Ash West, who has chaired the restructure subcommittee, said..

“There is some flexibility in that if we don’t get 28 clubs.

“Does that look like three competitions? Does that look like two?

“It depends on the numbers, and it depends on the conversations that the GD clubs (have).

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“Now that they’ve got this information, they can go away and have some more meaningful conversations about where they see their future.”

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