Horsham District Football Netball League 2020 senior premiership seasons have been cancelled, it was announced on Tuesday.
Both the senior football and netball competitions will not go ahead, however there are plans to have juniors play this year.
The board and clubs met on Monday night and made the decision to abandon the senior season after it became apparent that despite COVID-19 restrictions easing it was still not viable.
Clubs are now being canvassed on creating a junior competition, which could include the Kaniva-Leeor United Football Club which has found itself unable to cross into South Australia to play in the KNTFL due to border closures.
AFL Victoria Wimmera-Mallee area manager Jason Muldoon said they would have a "blank slate" on the planning a junior competition for 2020 when numbers were established.
The decision to abandon the HDFNL season was made after meetings with clubs and feedback from key stakeholders in light of further easing of COVID-19 restrictions which would have allowed a return to competition on July 20.
The future of Wimmera league football and netball competitions for 2020 is likely to be decided later this week. The KNTFL decided last Thursday to abandon its senior season while forging ahead with a junior competition.
HDFNL Chairman Fred Mellington said he was "disappointed to announce the cancellation of the 2020 senior football and netball season".
"The HDFNL remain committed to giving the opportunity to junior players for the remainder of the 2020 season," he said.
The cancellation was primarily down to timing, with a 10-round half season for seniors unable to be completed before October, when the focus of many club members would need to be on agriculture.
Other concerns included player numbers, how revenue would be generated without bars and canteens - including social events - and the pressure on staff and volunteers of complying with COVID-19 social distancing rules.
The Victorian Government announced on Sunday that local football teams, soccer clubs and other contact sports would be able to resume training for over-18s from July 13, with full competitions from July 20.
Muldoon said the leagues had had to pick through the details of Sunday's announcement for how it applied to football and netball and they were still waiting on clarity around crowd sizes.
However he said that it became obvious there was no appetite among the senior HDFNL sides to push the season into October.
Muldoon said the clubs made it clear that they would have wanted to play each other once in a premiership season for it to go ahead.
"We could get a top four and then push through until October 17," he said. "But there was no appetite."
The likely pressure on volunteers to keep up social distancing guidelines while running canteens or bars also played a part in the decision to abandon the season.
"We already asked a lot of them before COVID-19," Muldoon said. "But there was no other way if we wanted to return to play other than to meet the protocols."
He said the decision gave clarity to the clubs and allowed them to start looking towards the 2021 season.
Netballers from the HDFNL will have an opportunity to sign up for a new competition for which the Horsham City Netball Association is seeking expressions of interest.
Muldoon said the governing bodies of Wimmera league football and netball would hopefully make a decision on their 2020 plans by the end of the week.
The major issue for the Wimmera league was likely to be the size of crowds allowed through the gates, with clubs believing at least 500 people were needed to make a competition viable, Muldoon said.
A state government spokesperson confirmed to the Ballarat Courier on Sunday that crowds would be able to attend outdoor sport under strict conditions. Spectators would be confined to separate groups of up to 20, with no interaction between groups and social distancing adhered to within each group.
Muldoon said they were waiting for AFL Victoria to get clarity from the State Government on what that meant in reality.
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