Smythesdale has been dealt another “kick in the guts” with the news it will not be able to play any games at its home venue of Smythesdale Recreation Reserve this season.
The club was told last Monday that the ground would not be ready to host matches. A lack of sunlight being the main reason, not allowing the grass to root into the ground strong enough to withstand the rigours of a full game.
It was originally planned to play three matches at Linton Recreation Reserve before a return home in June, but the Bulldogs will be forced to wait until 2018.
The news is another untimely blow for the struggling club. While it is frustrating to not be able to host matches, the real toll has been on the club’s financial situation.
President Dave Tuohy said the lack of a home venue has had a “big impact” on the club’s ability to generate income through sign advertising around the ground while the circumstances have also made finding new sponsors “non-existent” this season.
Furthermore, gate numbers are down, which has a negative flow-on effect to canteen and bar income.
"Financially it’s playing a fair toll on us,” Tuohy said.
“The sponsorship is one of the bigger things it’s hurt. You can’t go charging people for sign advertisement on the oval, which generates a bit of money for us, when there’s no signs up. We’re not providing the service, so we can’t expect them to pay.”
Despite the disappointment, Tuohy said he’d prefer to take the extra time to get the ground right rather than return too early and risk further damage.
Once the ground is complete, Tuohy expects it to be a real asset for the club and one of the best venues in the region and is hopeful it will help attract both players and spectators.
"We were hoping to get at least a couple games on there this year, but it is what it is. We’d rather it be 100% right...we want to make sure it’s good for the future, if it means keeping off it for the rest of the year we’re happy to do so.
“A little bit of short-term pain, for some long-term gain is what we’re hoping to see.”
Meanwhile, Waubra’s ground developments have been put on hold. The club has been granted an extension from the state government, with works to begin immediately after the season. This means Waubra will not lose any home matches and will ensure the ground is ready to go for 2018.