AFL North East Border area manager John O’Donohue has warned Ovens and King battlers Swanpool and Tatong they are in danger of missing the boat, should they continue to fight a decision to merge with Goorambat.
AFL Victoria has an ugly fight on its hands after the clubs reacted angrily to news they would be forced to consolidate with fellow struggler Goorambat after a lengthy review.
Now AFL North East Border has formally lodged a recommendation that the three struggling clubs form a new entity, with the club yet to be officially branded.
At this stage, Swanpool and Tatong are refusing.
But O’Donohue was standing firm when contacted yesterday.
“Look, the cold hard fact is this current set-up is not sustainable,” he said.
“We’ve explored every option and it’s not a decision we’ve made lightly.
“It’s been passed by the commission and with the full support of the O and K board.
“It’s not just about these three clubs — this is impacting on every other club in the league.
“Hopefully all three clubs buy into it because we can’t afford to wait any longer.”
Under the proposal, the new club would be based out of Goorambat, but games would still be played in all three centres.
Swanpool believes the proposal would take the grassroots community element out of the club.
Benalla Rural City councillor Justin King has also publicly opposed the decision and formed a lobby group.
There was a meeting at Benalla council chambers last night to discuss the issue.
The O and K has been plagued by lop-sided results, with 200 — and even 300 — point margins a common occurrence in senior games in recent seasons
“It’s not just about the footy, though,” O’Donohue said.
“There’s lop-sided results in the netball, too.
“Tough decisions needed to be made.”
The clubs have until next Tuesday to lodge an appeal.
The existing Victorian Country Football League board is set to hear it.
O’Donohue said he had not heard from any club since the findings were released.