Katandra's and Tungamah's applications to join Picola District Football Netball League have been knocked back.
The Murray Football Netball League teams were informed by the PDFNL they would not be granted entry to the league they departed at the start of 2018 when the league did not affiliate with AFL Goulburn Murray.
Picola league operation manager Shane Railton said a failure to complete steps necessary to join his league left it with no option but to decline the teams’ entry.
“Our board met on Monday night and we went through all of the necessary processes that have to be undertaken,” he said.
“It became pretty obvious that most of these hadn’t been undertaken (by the clubs). The board wouldn’t have been able to grant them membership either way.
“We advised them in an email a while ago (that steps hadn’t been undertaken) but they weren’t rectified.”
Railton expanded on the processes the clubs had not performed, which, he said, largely centred around a failure to formally apply to leave the Murray league.
“Clubs must have a meeting with their members; it can't just be five people sitting around and talking,” he said.
“You also have to get the approval of your own league and that needs to be done before October 31.
“This has been pointed out in an email. All applications are relative to their own league, it's got nothing to do with coming into ours. The AFL rules have no bearing on ours in this case.”
But Tungamah vice-president Nathan Lawless disputed Railton's version of events, and said his club had formally applied to leave the Murray league and it had not received any correspondence from the Picola league saying its application was incomplete.
“We've applied by the AFL Victoria operating rules and we didn't receive notice within 21 days of that application as is stated in the rules,” he said.
“We got AFL Goulburn Murray to chase it up and all we got back was a flat email saying we weren't granted entry into the league, with no explanation.
“We have 100 per cent followed procedures, it is rubbish.
``Why haven't these negotiations been handled in good faith, and we didn't even hear back within 21 days.
“We were asked to provide audited books, which we've done, and the rules ask for a nominal fee of $4000. The league has taken $8000 from two small clubs just to get a response that only says our membership has not been accepted.
“We certainly haven't been asked for anything we have not supplied.”
A frustrated Lawless, who has made no secret of his belief Tungamah needed to move back to a district level competition, hoped AFL Goulburn Murray would intervene and negotiate an outcome.
“We've asked the AFL to look at the matter and make a decision. If we were given reasons and an explanation, you could say it makes sense, but we haven't been,” he said.
“The pressure is on the AFL now to support the clubs that supported them, but I imagine it is worried if it pushes the Picola league too hard it will not affiliate again. The AFL needs to be worrying about the development of its clubs.
“It's going to take a shake-up from the AFL and some financial support, but you've got to have your eyes shut if you don't believe there is a need for another league in the region.”
AFL Goulburn Murray region general manager Jamie Macri was as frustrated as anyone regarding the situation, but pledged he would keep working to find an outcome that suited all involved.
“The Picola league has declined the applications of Tungamah and Katandra, and Tungamah wants to appeal that,” he said.
“We tried to set up a second-tier competition this year but both declined to go in. We've been working with them since to find a home and we will find them somewhere.
“I've been here 12 months but this an issue that started before my time. I'm trying my hardest to get a second tier going and it's been really tough. I just hope we can find a really good outcome for the clubs.
“There is definitely a need (for another league), and I think there's been a need for a while. We'll just try and come up with another solution that suits all clubs.
“I think there were six meetings about this stuff, which is exhausting, but I'm more than happy to keep trying.”