The Central Highlands Football League's window for a potential 2020 season has been slashed.
The league's board sent an email to member clubs on Tuesday stating that pushing football into October was not a "viable" option.
This news comes after clubs were asked for feedback on the season - which has been stalled due to the COVID-19 pandemic - moving into traditional cricket territory.
Last month, AFL Victoria and Cricket Victoria came to an agreement that allows football/netball leagues around the state the availability of dual-purpose grounds deep into October. Junior football fixtures must finish by Sunday, October 11, and seniors by Sunday, October 18. These deadlines allow junior cricket to start from Friday, October 16, and seniors a week later.
Despite this, the CHFL won't fixture games past September.
"There are five different cricket associations associated with clubs who would have to agree with pushing back their start dates for football/netball matches in October to occur," the CHFL statement read.
"Tennis and other summer sports would also be affected as well as clubs not having access to facilities/ovals due to cricket preparation and loss of liquor licenses at the end of September."
The statement said school holidays in early October was also a factor.
CHFL president Doug Hobson said the board was aware of the AFL Victoria and Cricket Victoria agreement, but had still decided not to encroach on summer sports.
While nothing has been communicated about a return to competition date by AFL Victoria, Hobson agreed that starting any earlier than July was unlikely. With that in mind and on the back of the decision to not go into October, a best case scenario would give the league just 13 Saturdays to complete a season.
Hobson admitted the league's window was "getting smaller" and that some clubs were frustrated with the current uncertainty around 2020.
"We need to see our parameters to work around so we can have some good fruitful discussions with our clubs to see what fits everybody," he said.
If you are seeing this message you are a loyal digital subscriber to The Courier, as we made this story available only to subscribers. Thankyou very much for your support and allowing us to continue telling Ballarat's story. We appreciate your support of journalism in our great city.