The Ovens and Murray Football Netball League's 2020 senior season has been cancelled due to COVID-19.
The board met last night and decided it wouldn't be viable to proceed without the prospect of crowds.
The league's 10 clubs met last week and unanimously voted to start a nine-round season, plus finals, on July 25, but that was dependent on the Victorian Government allowing crowds to attend.
The clubs maintained the season would only start with confirmation crowds of at least 750 could attend, including match participants.
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Confidence was high early last week, but the spike in cases in Melbourne, which has seen double-digit positive results for more than a week, was the killer blow as the state government reeled in the planned easing of restrictions.
Organisers said the league remains committed to providing competitive opportunities for junior footballers and netballers in 2020.
It's the fourth time in the league's proud history, for so long considered Victoria's strongest country league, a period of play has been cancelled.
The competition went into recess from 1916 to 1918 during World War I, and again in 1920.
The league was also on hold for a five-year period from 1941-45 during World War II.
OMFNL General Manager Sean Barrett said the league had conducted a lengthy and thorough consultation process with key stakeholders prior to reaching its decision.
"This decision has not been made lightly, we've maintained a glass half full approach throughout this process and we're bitterly disappointed in making this announcement," he said.
"Following the latest Victorian government and state health announcement, it's very difficult to see how we could pursue relevant senior competitions in a safe and responsible manner that wouldn't be detrimental to our clubs"
"Our decisions need to be focused on what is best in both the short-term and the long-term for our competition, clubs and the community"
He said other key concerns identified included the anomalies between the two state government restrictions, uncertainty around a clear and unified path back to return to play, potential health implications within local communities, the financial strain to our clubs, the additional requirements and stress placed on club and league volunteers, the ability of clubs to conduct social functions, the difficulty of managing crowds amid social distancing rules and not wanting to play without crowds.