Lions may go as eastern teams discuss their future in the BFL

THE five eastern bloc clubs of the Ballarat Football League will meet on Tuesday night to discuss their future in the league.

In a meeting to be hosted by Sunbury, presidents of all five clubs are expected to discuss their status in the BFL and the outcome of a meeting held between the Lions and league executives on Sunday.

Sunbury is considering moving away from the Ballarat Football League, with the Bendigo or Riddell District football leagues among the possible homes.

It is highly unlikely the club will move anywhere before season 2015, but president Phil Lithgow said it was important to hold discussions with other clubs to communicate exactly where Sunbury stood.

“It’s about letting them know what we’re thinking.

“They would do the same for us if they were in the same boat,” he said.

Speaking to The Courier, presidents of the four other eastern clubs (Bacchus Marsh, Darley, Melton and Melton South) all indicated they had no intention of moving away from the BFL.

Melton South president Peter Earl said his club had discussed the possibility of relocating, but currently had every intention of remaining in the league.

Darley chief Grant Wright admitted it was becoming harder for eastern clubs to compete, with a number of North Ballarat Roosters being dispersed among Ballarat clubs this year. 

Melton’s Stephen Bartlett and Bacchus Marsh’s Pat Mullen said there had never been any thought given to leaving the BFL.

Lithgow said if another eastern team was added to the league it would solve a lot of issues, but that was still a very distant proposition.

“A six and six split (six Ballarat teams and six eastern teams) would be perfect.

“Ideally we’d like another club in the competition.”

Also among the issues raised during Sunday’s meeting was the excess travel Sunbury was forced to undertake over the course of a season.

AFL Goldfields regional general manager Rod Ward said Sunbury travelled about 1200 kilometres each year, compared to about 800 kilometres for the two Melton clubs.

Ward floated the possibility of eastern teams playing each other twice and Ballarat-based teams meeting on two occasions each year.

“It’s about limiting the travel where we can,” Ward said.

“We regard Sunbury very highly in the Ballarat Football League. They are caught in that position where they are the farthest point away in the league.”

Lithgow also dismissed as laughable any suggestion Sunbury wanted to move because it was not deemed to be a genuine premiership threat this year.

“Someone said it is the easiest way out and I laughed,” he said.

“This is the hardest thing to do. It’s not the easiest way out by any stretch of the imagination.”

The BFL is expected to give feedback to Sunbury following its next committee



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