Goulburn Valley League cancels senior grades for 2020

By Alex Mitchell

Goulburn Valley League's senior grades have been scrapped for this year.

At a meeting with the league board and all club presidents on Wednesday night, a unanimous decision was reached to cancel senior football and netball for the season, although under-16 and 18 football and 15-and-under and 17-and-under netball still look set to proceed.

It continued cancellation carnage across Victoria, with the Murray and Ovens and Murray leagues among a plethora of competitions to pull the pin in the past 48 hours.

The call comes after a recent spike in Victoria's coronavirus cases, although Department of Health and Human Services regulations will allow full-contact competition from July 20.

Chairman David Roff said the league had waited as long as it could before making the call, outlining the reasons why the decision had been made.

“This is not a decision we have made lightly,” Roff said.

“We recognise the potential health implications within our communities, the financial burden of a shortened season to both our clubs and the league, the additional requirements of volunteers, the number of people allowed within a hospitality setting, inability to manage crowds amid social distancing rules and not wanting to play without crowds.

“We waited as long as we possibly could, but ultimately had to make the call in order to provide clarity to everyone at all of our clubs.”

But while a "premiership season" will not run for any grade, the league is continuing to plan for its juniors to compete in a modified format, with full-contact training and competition permitted in unlimited numbers as of Monday.

Roff said the four junior grades were aimed to begin on July 18, the league's previously-scheduled return date.

“How a GVL juniors competition will look is yet to be determined and will be dependent first and foremost on state government advice,” he said.

“We have formed a working group to help expedite this once return to play protocols are released.”

League operations manager Josephine Spencer noted it would be just the fourth period in history the league had missed a season.

“This is an extraordinary situation; the GVL has only been in recess three times over its 126-year history,” Spencer said.

“The first time was in 1897 due to the lack of players able to take an afternoon off on a Wednesday to play sport. The league then went into recess between 1915–1918 due to World War I and then again in 1941-1945 due to World War II.

“Whilst the 2020 season is different to any we have ever known, we will continue to support our clubs and begin our planning for 2021 with all 12 clubs ready to participate.”

The league's statement, released on Thursday, said it had regularly met with Murray and Ovens and Murray league officials before making the decision, with both other leagues reaching the same verdict.

“The meetings between all three leagues have allowed us all the opportunity to work collaboratively as we are all in the same situation,” Roff said.

“It has been a fantastic opportunity to work together for the greater good of the game and we now plan to regularly meet in seasons to come. We thank the leagues.”