OPINION: Central Highlands league split is the best way forward

AFL Goldfields should move to split the Central Highlands Football League.

The 18-club league has been at the centre of the region's senior competition review and a break-up of the current one-tier format has been mooted on more than one occasion.

But will it actually happen? And if so, how?

All will be revealed to the public on Thursday when the highly-anticipated final recommendations are handed down by the AFL Goldfields Commission.

The most recent round of feedback sought by the review's working party asked clubs and leagues which of two split options were preferred. One was based on competitiveness and the other on location.

For me, a divide decided by senior football results is the way to go.

Through my numerous conversations with participants of the league, I often hear how being placed in a perceived “bottom league” would have dire consequences for recruiting players and coaches.

But by offering promotion and relegation between divisions, each club has the ability to win their way out of that “bottom league” if its form warrants it.

While I don’t like to reward mediocrity, providing a sustainable future for all clubs and leagues in the region is at the heart of this review.

On-field and on-court success is integral in keeping clubs strong and vibrant.

Two smaller divisions – which should carry the Central Highlands banner and be administered by that league – provides a significantly better outlook for the 18 clubs (and others that might want to join) in the competition.

And how exciting would the closing rounds of a season be when sides are fighting a relegation battle? The amount of “dead rubber” fixtures would be massively decreased late in the year.

Of course, the important relationship between football and netball must be respected. And with the Central Highlands league’s desire to play a club’s football and netball matches at the same venue on the same day regarded as sacrosanct, this creates some problems for a split based on the senior football outcomes.

Under this method, there could well be a big gulf between the best and worst teams in a netball division.

The CHFL board has strongly opposed a split to its competition throughout the review process, claiming the majority of its clubs are in favour of remaining together as one entity.

But what about those clubs that feel a split is their best chance of long-term survival? It’s AFL Goldfields’ responsibility to look at everyone, not just the majority that are already doing alright.

The review will be revealed to the public at a media conference at 2.30pm on Thursday.