WRFL SEASON ANNOUNCEMENT
The Western Region Football League has today announced the cancellation of its senior football competitions for the 2020 season.
The WRFL Board ratified the decision to cancel all senior football competitions (including Seniors, Reserves and Under 18.5 men’s competitions and Senior women’s) at its Board meeting last night.
The WRFL remains committed to conducting junior football and netball competitions in 2020.
Whilst senior club support for a premiership season had remained relatively strong, recent feedback from senior clubs showed a shift in sentiment toward the staging of a senior season.
Amongst the feedback, a significant majority of senior clubs conceded that their club’s longer-term viability would be best served by not competing in a senior premiership season.
Other primary concerns raised by senior clubs included the health and safety of members and patrons and the inability to effectively manage crowds to comply with current social distancing rules and crowd restrictions at open public reserves.
Indications on Monday by State Government that junior return-to-train/play dates remain as previously advised, but that senior return-to-train/play dates are again under review, was a further consideration.
Whilst senior premiership competitions have been cancelled, significant support remains for a junior season, with the significant majority of clubs that field at least one junior team wishing to play.
The WRFL will look to stage a junior season over nine weeks, commencing Sunday July 26, consistent with ongoing public health guidelines.
WRFL CEO Matthew Duck said the WRFL had conducted a lengthy and thorough consultation process with its key stakeholders prior to reaching its decision.
“The WRFL has maintained a view throughout this process that 34 clubs went into 2020, and we need to do whatever we can to ensure 34 clubs come out,” Duck said.
“Clubs expressed concerns about their financials, older volunteers, crowd restrictions and an overall inability to manage crowds at open public spaces.”
“We must make decisions based on what is best in both the short and the long-term. The information we have gathered from our clubs together with the latest medical advice has determined that cancelling the senior football competitions in 2020 is the only viable option.”
Whilst the premiership season is cancelled for senior competitions, the league remains open to exploring club interest in a shortened, more informal opt-in/opt-out offering for these groups should circumstances allow later this year. Although a part of senior clubs and Saturday football, the WRFL is particularly eager to explore club interest in a competition for the Under 18.5 men’s teams, recognising the important role they play in the football pathway.
The WRFL remains committed to working closely with AFL Victoria, its key stakeholders and all member clubs to manage the associated issues related to the cancellation of senior football competitions in 2020 and will now begin working with senior clubs towards a return to the field in 2021.