HAWTHORN president and former Victorian premier Jeff Kennett has cautioned the AFL on its push to have all country leagues under its administrative control by 2019.
“It's an example where the AFL hierarchy lost interest or lost control of what was happening down the line,” he said.
"I see a bit of that happening with country football.
"Rather than being about delivering the game and giving young men and women the opportunity to play football it is becoming more and more bureaucratic.
"It is not in anyones' interests if the various levels of football can't work together co-operatively and recognise country leagues aren't the AFL and don't have access to large amounts of money.
"We often lose sight of what the competition is all about.
"Country people by nature have an apprehension about the city knowing better than the country how to live their lives.
"The AFL at their peril would ignore the genuine concerns being raised by the country leagues.”
Country leagues including the Ovens and Murray and Murray are still to sign affiliation agreements for this season and are on board for a fight against an administrative takeover at the end of this year.
The Picola and District league has already been cut adrift from AFL Goulburn Murray after missing a series of deadlines to agree to an affiliation agreement for this season.
But divisions are emerging within the 17 clubs in the PDFL’s two leagues about breaking away from AFLGM.
It’s understood eight clubs met on Friday to discuss whether they would stay in the PDFL or join a breakaway competition AFLGM is prepared to put together.