Wangaratta has received a huge boost on the eve of the season with star English striker Adam Burchell earning full playing status.
The two-time AWFA Star Player has featured for the club the past five seasons and applied to have his visa status removed, however, Burchell departed Wangaratta midway through the 2018 season to test himself at NPL level with Shepparton-based Goulburn Valley Suns.
He returned to the Devils a handful of weeks later to play out the AWFA season.
AWFA's rules and regulations state visa players who have had five years consecutive playing with AWFA and/or Cobram (previous association) be given an exemption as a visa player, with documentary evidence and a statutory declaration to be submitted to the executive committee for approval.
The brief switch to the Suns threatened to jeopardise Burchell's exemption, but the club argued its case to league officials to have him given the all clear and got their wish this week.
ALSO IN SPORT:
Coach Daniel Vasilevski admitted it was a relief to have it sorted.
"'Burchy' has been a great servant of Wangaratta FC and also AWFA, bringing lots to the game, including his involvement in playing for Wang and also AWFA rep sides," he said.
"He's also mentored younger players and coached a women's side to a cup final win (last year).
"He's a Wang boy now having settled here with his partner and expecting a baby this year.
"Concerns were that he didn't serve his five consecutive years at the club because he left for GV Suns for a few weeks.
Common sense prevailed and the right decision was made by the AWFA executive committee.Daniel Vasilevski
"He left to better his football and challenge himself but had every intention of returning to Wangaratta, so we were confident our argument was strong.
"Common sense prevailed and the right decision was made by the AWFA executive committee."
Vasilevski stressed it wouldn't have jeopardised the club's recruiting strategy had Burchell not been cleared.
"All it does is give us an option of recruiting another visa player if required but we were content with what we had in our front third," he said.
"He's (Burchell) an asset to the league and we plan on keeping him around for a while. He's always been loyal to Wangaratta FC, so he's never really left us."