Jeparit-Rainbow could join HDFNL if Mallee league disbands

HEAD FIRST: Jeparit-Rainbow ruckman Owen Uaongo crashes into a Beulah opponent. The Lakers could move into Horsham District Football Netball League if Mallee Football League disbands. Picture: LES GRAETZ

HEAD FIRST: Jeparit-Rainbow ruckman Owen Uaongo crashes into a Beulah opponent. The Lakers could move into Horsham District Football Netball League if Mallee Football League disbands. Picture: LES GRAETZ

JEPARIT-RAINBOW met with the Horsham District Football Netball League about the possibility of joining the competition if the Mallee Football League disbands.

With Beulah and Hopetoun set to merge at the end of the year, the Mallee league would be reduced from seven teams to six, and there is uncertainty about the future of the competition.

Some of the league’s clubs are weighing up whether to stay or depart for other leagues and there is a possibility the competition could disband next season.

Western Vic Football general manager Stephen McQueen confirmed Jeparit-Rainbow had met with the district league late last month, but said the club was not actively seeking to leave the Mallee league.

“They’ve had a meeting with the league regarding their options if anything happens to the Mallee league,” he said.

“It was purely a research meeting for them and we were there to listen.

“They won’t instigate a move, but they want to make sure they’ve got somewhere to go if the Mallee league falls over.”

Mr McQueen said there was still a chance the Mallee league could return next year.

Beulah and Hopetoun have both voted in favour of a merger, but Mr McQueen said a six-team league could work.

“There could still be a Mallee league with six teams, but if one of the other clubs moves to North Central for instance, it’s down to five teams which would make it hard to sustain,” he said.

“It’s all up in the air at the moment.”

Jeparit-Rainbow president Brett Fisher said he could not comment more until other Mallee clubs decided what to do at the end of the season.

“I don’t want to comment on it at the moment because there are a couple of other teams in the league that don’t know which way they’re going to go,” he said.

The Mallee league was formed in 1997 with 12 teams but, pending Beulah and Hopetoun’s merger, every founding club will have merged, moved to another league or folded by the end of the year.

League president Russell Turnbull said AFL Victoria Country central and north-western area manager Bruce Petering was now handling its affairs as it tried to determine whether to continue next year.

Mr Petering was unavailable for comment.

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