MSE clubs unite

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Lechelle Earl, owner/editor

MSE clubs unite

There has been a bombshell development which will impact the operations of the new Working Party examining the structure of South East football.

The nine Mid SE football and nine Mid SE netball club presidents returned to Mount Burr on Thursday night to put their signatures to a joint statement which states their unanimous opposition to any proposed merger with neighbouring leagues.

As previously revealed by The SE Voice, the club leaders had met at this central venue last month and agreed, in principle, on this united stand.

They want the status quo to remain for 2024 and beyond.

The 18 presidents are fearful that not all Mid SE clubs would survive if a proposed merger went ahead and the small town social, economic and mental health benefits could be lost.

Furthermore, they believe their clubs could have difficulty in retaining volunteers, players, umpires and supporters if the current Mid SE structure was not maintained.

The Mid SE is one of the most stable competitions of its size in the nation with just one change in composition in almost 60 years.

The Working Party is required to submit its findings to the SANFL by July.

The sport’s governing body has already determined there will be a restructure of the SE leagues and it will take effect from the beginning of 2024.

The two gatherings at “Mick” and Jean Walker Oval to date have been coordinated by Hatherleigh Football Club president Deon Chester.

He is pleased that his 17 fellow Mid SE club presidents have taken this united stand and have common concerns.

“We plan to meet again at Mount Burr on March 20,” Mr Chester said.

“Our first two meetings were for club presidents only but we will be inviting the executive committees of the Mid SE Football League and Mid SE Netball Association to the next.

“We have some other issues to discuss.”

The three sub-committees associated with the Working Group are meeting this week.

The SANFL has been contacted for a response but no one was available for an interview.

Its media department issued a statement on behalf of Shawn Ford who is the head of country football.

“The Working Group, underpinned by three sub-committees and with representation from all three leagues, was established in late January and is an important process in considering the future of football for the entire South East region,” Mr Ford said.

“This group will importantly provide relevant information throughout the process to all clubs so they can make informed decisions, with the three sub-committees to meet this week.

“We understand the emotion and passion within individual clubs and the tremendous commitment of volunteers to their local footy club.

“However, the intent of the Working Group, after much consultation, is to support future sustainability and participation in the region.

“The Working Group looks forward to continuing discussions with all leagues and clubs in the South East and encouraging open and constructive conversations.”

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