OVENS and Murray football will return to Wangaratta radio station 3NE for the first time in decades this season.
Its return is part of a shake-up under which sister station Edge FM will no longer air AFL matches.
North East Broadcasters, which owns 3NE and Edge, will relay the Ovens and Murray calls of Albury station 2AY, which has been airing the country competition for two years.
2AY commentator Simon Corr said he had approached 3NE last year in a bid to expand the reach of his call with Robbie Mackinlay.
“The only negative about our broadcast has been that not every catchment area of the Ovens and Murray can hear 2AY — we haven’t be able to get up into the Ovens Valley,” Mr Corr said.
“The best way to rectify that was for 3NE, the only commercial station in the North East, to simulcast the matches.”
The deal will also see 2AY commentators calling Sunday games exclusively for 3NE while their home station meets its AFL commitments.
3NE general manager Frank Davidson said the move to host Ovens and Murray matches would result in AFL being pulled from Edge FM, which will maintain its music format on winter weekends.
He said Friday night AFL matches would air on 3NE, with no Sunday or Saturday day and night clashes.
The 2AY relay will begin at 11am Saturdays with The Critic sports show and run until 7pm after a scores round-up.
“We are all about commitment to the local community. It’s a way we can let people know we’re fully supporting Ovens and Murray football,” Mr Davidson said.
“I can see nothing but positive vibes out of the whole scenario.”
Ovens and Murray general manager Aaron McGlynn said the league board had wholeheartedly supported the extra coverage, which follows Wangaratta-based OAK FM having broadcast the competition for about a decade before 2AY started its coverage in 2011.
“It’s fantastic for the league to have 2AY and 3NE on board with OAK FM,” Mr McGlynn said.
“Any league with coverage from one station would be happy, but three is exceptional.”
OAK FM general manager Mike Culley said he was not overly concerned by 3NE’s involvement.
He said he would monitor any impact on sponsorship with OAK having already secured Club Mulwala as its major backer for this season.