SIDELINED: Matt McDonald locked in with the Hoppers

MATT McDonald says he is “absolutely devastated” after his contract with North Albury was deemed valid last night.

The star midfielder ­admitted his future was at a crossroads following an independent tribunal’s ­decision to uphold his ­contract with the Hoppers.

The two-time best and fairest winner was seeking a move to Jindera but North Albury refused to clear him, saying he was a required player.

McDonald categorically ruled out returning to Bunton Park and said the clearance saga had taken its toll.

“Obviously it’s still early and I’m hopeful things can still work out but it’s disappointing,” McDonald said.

“It looks like I won’t be playing in the short term and I guess there’s a chance I won’t long term, as well.

“I accept the tribunal’s decision but it’s absolutely devastating.

“My family is obviously very disappointed, too.

“Hopefully the two clubs can work something out.”

Last night’s hearing lasted just over an hour, with the Bulldogs unable to present enough evidence to convince the tribunal that McDonald’s contract had been breached.

McDonald re-signed with the Hoppers in September last year, unaware of the financial crisis about to ­engulf the club.

North Albury revealed it was $123,000 in debt in January.

Jindera had hoped a number of factors, including that saga, would play in McDonald’s favour.

A host of players have already left Bunton Park, with Brandon Ryan, Jason Gram and Doug Strang medallist Adam Prior just some of the casualties of the crisis.

Prior was released by the Hoppers late last month after the club came to an “undisclosed agreement” with rival Lavington. 

Jindera takes on Holbrook in its first game of the season this week but McDonald now looks certain to sit out that game.

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