Rival clubs have responded to the suggestion that the Albury-Wodonga Football Association should be slimmed down to eight clubs.
Wangaratta coach Daniel Vasilevski believes merging some of the weaker clubs would raise the standard but his comments have met with opposition.
"It's not the right time to be sticking it into some clubs that are struggling," Albury Hotspurs president Brad Howard said.
"Everyone's still trying to find their way through the pandemic and their numbers are down. Albury-Wodonga has a lot of clubs and less people to choose from than Wangaratta.
"Clubs have got to decide if that's what they would prefer to do (merge) but the bottom line is everyone has their own identity.
"Some people have strong seniors and some people have incredibly strong juniors so who makes those decisions? Who's the person to decide 'we want a stronger senior competition so don't worry about the juniors'? Our whole competition is about juniors and grassroots football.
"We encourage players to better themselves if that's what they want to do. But not everyone wants to go and play for Australia, they want to play grassroots football, that's where their enjoyment comes from."
Albury United president Justin Stevens insists that downsizing isn't the way to go.
"The more teams we have, the better," he said. "Maybe we could reach out and see if some of the Riverina teams want to be involved and bring in the likes of Griffith who do have low numbers.
"With us now producing night games, we're starting to gain a lot of interest. If we can build and make that better for next year and possibly bring Wagga into the FA Cup, hopefully we could get a bigger draw so there's no byes.
"We have to be proactive right now if we want our league to be able to grow and compete against the Ovens and Murray. We need to think outside the square, we can't be complacent because once kids hit that 15-17 mark, that's where we start losing players."
Boomers coach Andrew Grove is also keen to see the league evolve, although he'd go about it a different way to Vasilevski.
"I understand where he's coming from," Grove said. "But the issue isn't the amount of clubs, it's the draw and how it's set up.
"If you merged us and Melrose, it doesn't change the fact neither of us have a thirds team. You'd have to merge the right clubs to get the right teams but that changes every year so it's impossible to achieve.
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"I would hate to see club-versus-club go but for the health of the comp, if it has to go... It's already started, with the women being the biggest example.
"They're trying to make senior football here into a semi-professional competition when it's not. It won't ever be and it's not meant to be.
"I'm coaching the players, trying to make them professional and they don't want to be. I'm not paying the players so I have no ability to demand anything from them."
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