AFL Goldfields general manager Rod Ward said there was no indication given from Maryboough Castlemaine District Football Netball League clubs as to which way they might vote on Smythesdale’s likely transfer request.
Ward said AFL Goldfields’ commercial and regional operations manager Aaron Nunn attended a meeting with MCDFNL club delegates this week, where the process of accepting or denying the Bulldogs entry into the competition was discussed.
Last week, Smythesdale president John Cranny shocked many when he revealed the club would be seeking clearance away from the Central Highlands league to the MCDFNL for the 2019 season.
This follows the Bulldogs’ long-running struggle to be competitive in their current surrounds, which they joined in 2011.
“There was no indication given by the clubs on whether they would vote to accept or vote against the clearance by Smythesdale,” Ward told The Courier.
Ward said the Bulldogs can start the official process on August 1 and must gain clearance from the Central Highlands league before requesting the move. From there, the MCDFNL clubs vote on whether or not to allow Smythesdale entry.
If denied by either competition, the Bulldogs then have the option of taking the matter to the AFL Goldfields commission, which could grant the shift.
“From our point of view, it’s all about club sustainability and that will be factored into any decision,” Ward said.
Ward speculated on the current feel from MCDFNL clubs.
“I can’t see a lot of concerns from the southern based Maryborough Castlemaine clubs, but I can see the most northern clubs being concerned about the travel,” he said.
Ward felt any vote by the MCDFNL clubs to accept Smythesdale would be conditional on it fielding a senior football side – something it has not done for the past two seasons.
This Saturday, Smythesdale will celebrate the 30th anniversary of the Illabarook 1988 senior and reserves football premierships when it hosts Daylesford.
Illabarook rebranded to Smythesdale ahead of the 2014 season.