The Ovens and Murray has accused AFL North East Border of "stonewalling" their plans to look into introducing an under-16 competition.
Speaking out after AFL Goulburn Murray this week granted the Goulburn Valley league permission to add the age group to next year's competition, league chairman David Sinclair called on the governing body to launch an investigation into junior football on the Border.
"We have clubs who want us to look at introducing a fourth grade of football," Sinclair said.
"We have broached it a number of times with AFL NEB because we just can't go ahead and do it without AFL NEB ticking it off.
"We have been stonewalled by them.
"They certainly have no interest in looking at changing the structure and moving under-16s out of the junior competition and into the O and M."
AFL NEB regional general manager John O'Donohue disputed the claims, saying they had thoroughly investigated the impacts of introducing another junior grade.
"We have done an analysis and we don't think it's in the best interests of football," O'Donohue said.
"It's now up to the Ovens and Murray to prove otherwise.
"We will continue to monitor the way the game is structured and managed but it's up to them to prove it's in the best interests of footy.
"We won't revisit it just because the Goulburn Valley has made a decision.
"We have assessed it and believe it will have a negative impact on participation opportunities."
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While AFL Goulburn Murray has given the Goulburn Valley permission to introduce an under-16 competition, the decision has been met with a mixed response by clubs.
Benalla, Seymour, Euroa and Mansfield are unlikely to field sides.
Sinclair said he could understand "difficulties" the introduction of an under-16 competition may create but believed there would be major benefits such as bigger crowds and volunteer support.
"They (AFL GM) have conducted a review a junior football across the region, not just Shepparton juniors, and the outcome was they are introducing under 16 football in the Goulburn Valley league," he said.
"I would like AFL NEB to run the same sort of review or process.
"The Goulburn Murray commission has a view that under 16 football is a good thing but the commission over here next door has a completely opposition view.
"Without a thorough review from all the stakeholders in our region, there are questions that will never be answered."
The idea of under-16s being introduced to the Ovens and Murray was first floated in 2012 with Yarrawonga, Corowa-Rutherglen and Lavington supporting the concept.
Myrtleford expressed some interest at the time.
A working party consisting of former AWJFL president Terry Hargreaves, Tim Sanson, Brendan Smith and Pat Flynn compiled a report based on feedback from the 10 clubs.
Sinclair said the introduction of under-16 netball had been a success for the Ovens and Murray.
"It has worked well with the netball," he said.
"We are looking at introducing a fifth grade of netball in the next few years."
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