Kyabram District League cancels 2020 season

By Alex Mitchell

The Kyabram District League season has been cancelled after member clubs voted against proceeding with this year's campaign.

At an extraordinary meeting on Wednesday night clubs agreed Victorian Government-imposed coronavirus measures and their surrounding time frames would make running a season inappropriate, with public health and safety also a major part of the reasoning behind the decision.

The KDL became the third league in Victoria to cancel its season behind the Heathcote District and Millewa leagues, while the South West District league followed yesterday by also opting against playing.

A KDL statement said football and netball was not a top priority through "the biggest crisis of our generation", with the league instead turning its attention to next year.

League president Fraser Kerrins said the decision had been far from easy, but said the implementation of social distancing restrictions, the return to full-scale training, contact participation and the ability to host unlimited crowds would not happen in a time frame that made a season viable.

“Since the COVID-19 crisis started, our league executive and administration have been working tirelessly, with the support of our member clubs, to exhaust all opportunities of delivering a product on behalf of the KDL,” Kerrins said.

On SEN radio, Kerrins expanded on the timing of the league's decision, labelling pushing the call further back "delaying the inevitable''.

“We ... thought it was time we stood up and made a decision as a league, in the best interests of our leagues and our clubs,” he said.

“It is a tough call, it might be an early call given where some of the other leagues are, but we feel it is time for us to make that call.”

League operations manager Nathaniel Dedman said government restrictions aside, protecting the health and safety of the league's players, officials and members was the top priority.

“On top of this, there is a real concern regarding the health and safety of our members, supporters and volunteers while this virus is still not under control,” Dedman said.

“We also have concerns about the financial impact on our clubs and members given the current hardship facing our country right now. Without memberships, gate takings, canteen and bar revenue — combined with an anticipated lack of sponsorship, makes community sport a tough place to operate.

“As a league we went into this crisis with 15 clubs, and we intend to have 15 clubs joining us when the first ball is bounced in 2021.”

AFL Goulburn Murray region general manager Jamie Macri said the governing body backed in the league's decision.

“We're more than happy to support any league at the moment that wants to make the call to cancel their season,” Macri said.

“But in saying that, we're also happy to back any league that wants to push ahead with a season while following all the guidelines set out by the government. We're just more than happy to support our leagues’ decision.”