O and M and Tallangatta leagues play blame game over fixture blunder

Ovens and Murray general manager Sean Barrett.
Ovens and Murray general manager Sean Barrett.

The Tallangatta and District league has hit back at claims it is to blame for the Ovens and Murray being forced to return to a Sunday grand final.

In a bid to avoid a financial hit, the Ovens and Murray has pushed back its marquee match 24 hours to a avoid a clash with the Hume league on Saturday, September 22.

League general manager Sean Barrett laid the blame squarely at the feet of the TDFL for introducing an additional bye round.

“Our preference was for each local league to have its own weekend for its respective grand final, it worked well this year,” Barrett said.

“We’re certainly disappointed with the TDFL’s approach.

“We received no consultation or correspondence regarding any proposed changes to the structure of the finals fixturing for 2018.

“The move of the TDFL’s doesn’t just influence the neighboring leagues.

“It has a significant impact on local fans and stakeholders such as media and sponsors that have strong interests across all three competitions.”

While TDFL president Rex Gray was reluctant to get into a slanging match with the Ovens and Murray, he pointed to the fact that they released their draw first on November 9.

“I admire the Ovens and Murray for changing its date and trying to make all leagues benefit for the finals, but we have to get our bye in,” he said.

“There was a lack of communication but at the end of the day our draw was the last one done.

“To me, the Ovens and Murray didn’t communicate to us what they were doing.

“I’m not having a shot at them, but they brought their draw out first and they could have come along and said: ‘how does this work for you fellas’ before they released it.”

Gray said the TDFL moved its grand final back a week to September 15 for next season to create another bye on the feedback from coaches and presidents.

He added no official agreement had been put into place between the competitions.

“We had a meeting with our presidents and coaches after the season and the main thing that came out was that the clubs needed a break,” Gray said.

“The last bye was the inter-league in May.

 “As a duty of care, our league has to listen to what our coaches and presidents are saying to us.”

Within hours of the Ovens and Murray changing its grand final date, the Hume league released its draw which starts on April 7.

It had no intentions of changing its grand final from September 22.

After consultation with the TDFL and Hume leagues in 2017, the Ovens and Murray moved from its traditional Sunday timeslot to make the most of the AFL’s decision to introduce a bye round prior to the finals.

A crowd of 6400 attended this year’s grand final with the league believing the Saturday fixture had greater scope to build.