WHEN MPNFL Nepean Division clubs instigated a vote of no confidence that eventually saw the sacking of the board and administration this time last season, the reason for doing so was “change”.
Nepean Clubs were no longer prepared to accept a dictatorship that constantly stripped them of having a voice and they got on the front foot to do something about it.
Peninsula Division clubs followed later.
AFL South-East General Manager Jeremy Bourke and his team of regional managers were like politicians before an election, campaigning and meeting with clubs, standing on the platform of ‘being heard and having a say in the future of football on the Mornington Peninsula’.
It was enough to get the clubs excited and onside, as well as encourage the likes of yours truly that “things were going to be different for the good of the game”.
The fact of the matter is, 12 months on, nothing has changed.
Sure, the new MPNFL has made some administration tweaks and videoing every game has been popular. Easy, predictable, quick wins.
However, they’ve failed to make any real hard decisions that are going to benefit the short and long term future of the competition.
The MPNFL has had every chance to make a statement.
However, it buckled with the Nepean League 16-round competition becoming 18, it failed to execute an engaging and supportive interleague campaign and its latest decision to restrict Nepean Division to play finals at Frankston Park is a short-sighted, misinformed disgrace.
In fact, it’s a mismanaged, uneducated injustice.
AFL South East MPNFL League Manager Shaun Connell released a media statement last Thursday, beating his chest about the fact that the MPNFL has a wonderful working relationship with Frankston Dolphins and Frankston Council, which opens the door for Saturday and Sunday finals at Kars St.
Kudos to Connell and his team for improving the relationship but given where the relationship started, it was never going to be hard to improve.
What two days of finals did was open the door to turn back the clock and have Nepean Division played on the Saturday and Peninsula Division on the Sunday.
No-one can argue the fact that Peninsula Division doesn’t draw crowds until Grand Final day – you just need to read the MPNFL Financial statement to understand that.
Make no mistake, the Nepean Division finals prop-up the entire competition.
Netball had always been used as an argument but according to Connell, this was no longer an issue because a deal has been struck with Frankston District Netball Association to have the games played at Jubillee Park.
However, rather than look at what is best for the entire competition, including the supporters, the MPNFL have decided to give Peninsula Division both Saturday and Sunday access to Frankston Park.
What a farce!
How can the MPNFL justify alienating Nepean Division from having an equal share of Frankston Park?
Is the MPNFL trying to drive a wedge between Peninsula and Nepean – are they trying to make Peninsula, which is on its knees as a competition, the premier competition?
Rumours circulating that Peninsula will have a salary cap of $150,000 next season and Nepean clubs $130,000 supports that theory.
Right now, these are two even competitions – Peninsula and Nepean. It’s not Division One and Division Two.
That may change in the future, however, right now, its two even competitions looking for equal rights.
Connell said in the media release “there are many positives to play here (Frankston Park) not only is it the heartland of the MPNFL but provides great viewing for patrons and a VFL standard surface for all clubs participating”.
Connell is absolutely right about it being the heartland of the MPNFL – all 22 clubs, not just five Peninsula Division clubs.
In almost 12 months in office, AFL South-East has taken the easy option – that’s not why it was voted in.
There is only one decision to be made here and that’s to celebrate the MPNFL as a whole competition and play finals of both Divisions at Kars St.