AFL South East (AFLSE) has today announced the decision to cancel all official football and netball competitions across the Mornington Peninsula Nepean Football League (MPNFL) for the 2020 season.
At a meeting on Saturday morning between AFLSE and MPNFL club presidents, a decision was reached to cancel competitions encompassing seniors, reserves and under 19 football and all grades of netball.
AFLSE Chief Operating Officer Shaun Connell said that while the decision to cancel the season was a tough one, the final determination had become clear after the most recent consultation with the MPNFL clubs.
“Whilst we are disappointed to cancel the 2020 MPNFL season, the health and wellbeing of the community and the sustainability of our clubs has always been our priority,” Connell said.
“We took a positive approach to return to the playing field but, with growing concern around the management of clubs during COVID and the growing uncertainty within the community, it was agreed that traditional MPNFL home and away season was not viable for 2020.
“Once it became clear that the long-term sustainability of clubs was at risk, the decision was clear-cut and needed to be made in a timely fashion.
“Covid-19 has presented a very unique set of circumstances and we needed to ensure that all 22 clubs – and AFL South East as an organisation – emerged from this pandemic in a healthy state.
“We look forward to working with our clubs to create a safe and healthy environment for all members and volunteers moving forward. We now begin to put plans in place for 2021 – a season that promises to be like no other.”
Concerns raised by senior football clubs included financial sustainability, player numbers, the additional burden on volunteers, management of social-distancing protocols and an inability to raise much-needed funding through gate takings, canteen, and bar sales.
Connell thanked all 22 clubs for their honest and frank feedback throughout the consultation process which included a club survey and several on-line meetings.
“The last few months have been unprecedented in terms of managing community sport and I would like to thank the leaders of our clubs for being engaged in the process,” Connell said.
“All clubs understand the associated challenges and impact that Covid-19 has had and were very open and balanced with their views.
“Both AFLSE and the clubs have a clear obligation to protect participants, volunteers, officials, umpires, supporters and their families during this Coronavirus pandemic.”
Whilst the premiership season is cancelled for senior competitions, the league remains open to exploring club interest in a shortened, more informal opt-in/opt-out model of competition should circumstances allow later this year.
Modified models of competition will now be finalised and canvassed with clubs over the coming period.