BRENDAN Fevola’s much anticipated debut appearance for Yarrawonga has been delayed until round 3.
The Ovens and Murray Football League last night backed down on the former star AFL goalkicker’s chance to play in an Easter Sunday blockbuster after six clubs complained to the league about a late draw change.
Fevola will play his first match against Wangaratta Rovers, one of the most outspoken clubs against a move to bring forward a game between Yarrawonga and Wangaratta to the week before Easter so he could wipe out a one-match ban he incurred in the VFL last year.
Hundreds of footy fans debated the decision when The Border Mail our live blog last night.
Does the saga end here? Here's how it has evolved.
O and M chairman Greg Claney said the league board had weighed up the promotional benefits of Fevola making his debut and concerns about changing the draw for one player before backflipping on its decision.
Yarrawonga president Glenn Brear said the decision was shattering.
“They have not only gutted a club, they have gutted a town,” he said.
“We are immensely disappointed. We needed the game on Easter Sunday.
“The clubs who have had a bit to say this week have had a win.”
Fevola also expressed his displeasure on Twitter.
“Must have a pretty strong board up there, bunch of pussy. Change there (sic) minds at a drop of a hat.”
Mr Claney said he was “gutted” by the decision.
He said Yarrawonga was entitled to feel “immense disappointment”.
“We tend to see footy as the be all, end all, but it is a community which has suffered in the last two weeks with floods,” he said. “It would have provided a real fillip to the area.
“It is a personal disappointment and, if I was in the same position as (Glenn), I would be equally disappointed.”
Mr Claney would not be drawn on whether the board had caved into a concerted campaign by other clubs to have the decision reversed.
“The public can make whatever view they like,” he said.
He hoped the decision not to allow Fevola to play on the Easter weekend would not put his signing in danger.
The Easter clash is one of Yarrawonga’s biggest revenue-raisers with the club standing to make $30,000-plus had Fevola played.
His availability for back-to-back Sunday home games in round 5 and 6 against Corowa-Rutherglen and Albury are also in jeopardy due to his involvement in the Dancing With The Stars television program.
“They need the money to make it happen and I hope it doesn’t put the whole venture at risk,” Mr Claney said.
“I hope it doesn’t stop other clubs trying to do a similar thing.
“Someone said it is probably the biggest signing in the O and M since Bobby Rose.
“I am not old enough to go back that far, but it would be fair to say it is the biggest in my time.”