The Ovens and Murray Football Netball League has cancelled its senior competitions for the first time since World War II.
The historic decision to abandon the open-age competitions was made by the board on Wednesday night over COVID-19 health concerns.
"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," general manager Sean Barrett said.
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"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."
The league had a number of concerns, including:
- anomalies between the two state government restrictions
- potential health implications within local communities
- not wanting to play without crowds.
While the clubs didn't have an official vote, North Albury was one to say no.
"It was too hard for us to go ahead," president Tony Burns said.
Lavington was one of the many clubs to "sit in the middle".
"We were concerned about the safety of our players, supporters and everyone around the league and we're of the opinion that the right call's been made," president Mark Sanson said.
Wangaratta Rovers and Albury pushed for the season to go ahead.
"Everyone in the community still wants some form of sport ... but I understand all the points associated with it not going ahead as well. I don't think you'll get anything different from anyone (that the right decision has been made)," Albury president Stuart Hodgson said
Myrtleford Football Netball Club president Ian Wales says the Ovens and Murray's gut-wrenching decision to cancel senior competitions showed tremendous leadership.
The O and M was forced to call off the season for the first time in 75 years due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
"It's the right decision and I think they (the board) did the right thing by bringing the decision forward (it was scheduled for Monday night, June 29) after what happened last week (Victorian Government announcements) and I think they did the right thing by holding on as long as they could," Wales said.
"They've made the decisions when they had to be made, that's what you expect from good leaders."
They've made the decisions when they had to be made, that's what you expect from good leaders.Ian Wales on the O and M
Just over a week ago, the league was confident a season would start on July 25, but the tightening of restrictions after a spike in cases in Melbourne proved critical.
"Without a shadow of a doubt it's the most difficult decision that I've had to make, it was certainly done with a heavy heart and not just by me, but the whole board," O and M chairman David Sinclair said of almost 30 years in administration.