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Restructure a step closer

AFL Barwon has cleared a key hurdle in its planned restructure of local football and netball.

A compromise has been reached with the Geelong and District Football League in which there will be no fourth-tier competition introduced until there are enough clubs to support it.

Instead the GDFL will become a 14-team competition in 2019 when it accepts the two clubs who finish ninth and tenth in the BFL next year, instead of being split into two divisions of eight and six.

“I think everyone now understands and agrees there’s a definite disparity in talent from top to bottom, and for the betterment of football it (the restructure) needs to happen,” AFL Barwon chief Lee Hartman said.

“It’s a great breakthrough.”

While content to be retaining it’s present structure of one division, GDFL president Neville Whitley would have preferred to remain at 12 teams.

“Why drop two (clubs) out of the Bellarine?” Whitley said. “Why don’t they go 10 (GFL), 12 (BFL) and 12 (GDFL)?

“But we’re prepared to take the two extra sides as playing participants.”

Hartman says a second division in the GDFL will be looked at when new clubs are formed, with at least two required for expansion.

“I would think eight and eight would probably be enough (for two divisions),” he said.

“The figures speak for themselves on the average margins. It has come down slightly since the points and salary cap started in the league.

“But, still, the average margins quite high.”

Hartman says the establishment of new senior clubs in growth areas like Armstrong Creek and North Torquay will take longer than initially hoped.

“That comes back to facilities and infrastructure,” he said.

“The ovals in Armstrong Creek probably haven’t come on as quick as we’d like.

“But this year (2018) we’ll definitely have the Armstrong Creek Auskick, and the Barwon Heads Road side will probably start in 2019.

“For the (Surf Coast) Suns, two primary schools – both the public and the Catholic – open 200m away next year.

“I believe the public school is fully subscribed, so that will help that club grow fairly quickly. We still expect them to be a senior club in the next 4-5 years.

“And with the growth of some of the other regions, we know there’ll be new clubs get to senior level.

“It’s just a matter of the timing.”

Whitley says the GDFL is still seeking resolution to a number of issues, including the continued administration of their competition.

“We need them (AFL Barwon) to commit to that,” he said. “Our clubs still want to be operated by an executive.

“We’ll see what happens going forward. Whether AFL Vic will allow it and AFL Barwon are prepared to do it.”

Twitter: @tom_king79