Sporting league shake-up

After months of discussions, rumours and speculation, the final report of the Limestone Coast Regional Football Council’s review into football was released on Tuesday morning and a change could be coming.

Due to the wide-reaching report taking a deep dive into all areas of football and netball, the 29-page report has an effect on everyone with the potential reshaping of the sporting soul of the community.

The LCRFC submitted its findings to the SANFL Community Football Committee last month and both bodies believed football in the Limestone Coast “most likely cannot continue to be sustainable in its current format”.

The final report endorsed some recommendations to potentially reshape the sport in the medium-term future and the first could happen as early as 2023.

The two clubs most impacted by the final report are Penola and Kalangadoo, which have been asked to consider a move into a “new” competition alongside the six existing Western Border Football League clubs in two years’ time.

If the Eagles and Magpies fly away from their respective nests in the Kowree Naracoorte Tatiara and Mid South Eastern leagues, it will pave the way for the next phase of the report’s proposal.

The preferred option of a combined league has proposed all 25 active clubs in the Limestone Coast to be separated geographically in separate town and community competitions.

If change is needed the model will be implemented in the medium to long term from 2023, but it is far from certain with Penola and Kalangadoo only open to considering the changes as a potential option down the road instead of committing to them.

The LCRFC will form a working party to work through the various strategic and operational football and netball matters.

The working party aims to have everything in place by the end of the financial year to have everything set well in advance of the 2023 season.

After discovering his team will be at the forefront of the proposed changes, Kalangadoo Football Club president Reece Carlson said no commitment had been made to joining any new league.

“The Limestone Coast Regional Football Council Board members provided us with a brief outline of what was included in the report, namely the recommendation that Kalangadoo Football and Netball Club join the current Western Border teams and Penola FC to create a ‘new’ league to begin in 2023,” he said in a statement.

“It needs to be made very clear that this was not a proposal the Kalangadoo Football and Netball Club initiated or pursued.

“It is a recommendation that has been made by the LCRFC for us as a club and community to consider.

“Please be assured that under no circumstances have any commitments been made and at this stage we are an active member of the Mid South East Football and Netball League.

“As football and netball committees we intend to be absolutely transparent, open and honest with all stakeholders over the coming weeks as we discuss all implications, challenges and opportunities in greater detail.”

Penola Football Club president Marcus Devereux said the club would reach out to its community in the coming months to discuss the possible move south, having jumped from the Western Border to the KNT in 1987.

“If anything was to happen, the recommendation was for us and Kalangadoo to potentially move, but no finer details are in place and there is a long road ahead,” he said.

“We will start further discussions with our club, community and the KNT league before Christmas to see if it is viable for us.

“If anything was to happen, we are not just going to jump straight into the Western Border because we knocked that back in previous years for a reason, which still stands.

“But we have to be open to the conversation because something will happen.”

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