MORNINGTON and Frankston Pines are on the verge of securing promotion.
In the worst case scenario that Football Victoria calls off the remainder of the 2021 season due to ongoing COVID-19 restrictions then both local clubs will be playing in a higher league next season.
Last week FV announced an NPL competitions restructure for 2022 increasing NPL2 from 12 to 14 teams which will see Langwarrin contesting a 26-game season.
A strong rumour is that A-League clubs will be placed in NPL2 along with promoted clubs from NPL3.
It’s unclear what impact this will have throughout lower leagues especially in State 1 South-East which only has 11 teams and is expected to revert to a 12-team competition next season.
However, last week’s announcement confirmed that at least two teams from State 1 South-East will be promoted to NPL 3 meaning Mornington is within touching distance of a much cherished goal.
“I’d be absolutely rapt if we secured promotion as it’s something we’ve aimed at for a long while now and I think we are just about ready,” Mornington head coach Adam Jamieson said.
“We’re at that point where we’re building a group of players to get to that level and it would be a disaster for us not to get up after all the work we’ve done.
“I’d be devastated if we didn’t get ourselves up and it would be the second time in a few years that that’s happened to us.
“We won a championship a while back and they took promotion off the table and now this year we’ve been top or second throughout the season.
“I think there are about 10 points between us and the third-placed side so we’d really have to chuck it not to finish in the top two.”
Jamieson and the club’s football department is wasting little time in preparing for life in the NPL and he has no doubts that his squad is up to standard.
“Yes I think we’ve got an NPL squad.
“Don’t get me wrong, we’ll have to add one or two and we’ve been talking to a couple of players already from overseas.”
And while Jamieson looks to the future so too does Frankston Pines counterpart Kevin “Squizzy” Taylor who’s side is eight points clear of the chasing pack in State 3 South-East.
State 2 holds no fears for Taylor.
“I think we’ll be competitive,” he said.
“It will definitely be a challenge because it’s a big step from three to two and I’d say we’d need to add a few players to give us more depth but we’re capable of that.”
Both Taylor and Jamieson have heard talk that FV could scrap relegation for State Leagues but if the state body chooses that course it will surprise the Pines boss.
“After last week’s announcement I think it would be hard to relegate in the NPL and not in State Leagues but you never know,” Taylor said.
“It will be interesting to see what happens with all the games that remain unplayed because I think realistically there’s less and less opportunity of playing them.
“I’ve heard that FV is keen to play rounds 10 and 11 so that every team has played each other at least once but it remains to be seen whether that’s possible.
“The situation in State 1 and State 2 is really unclear as we don’t know how many vacancies they’ll have.
“Previously if there was an extra vacancy created (in State 1) then it wouldn’t automatically go to the third-placed State 2 side in that same region (South-East) but would go to the third-placed team in both South-East and North-West with the highest points but they may not do that this time.”
If the season cannot be completed then FV’s competitions department is faced with the prospect of making crucial calls regarding final standings throughout the leagues.
In some overseas jurisdictions whose seasons were similarly impacted by the pandemic various forms of the points-per-game (PPG) method have been applied to reach an outcome regarding promotion and relegation.
And we may be forced to at least consider that method.
They could do worse than turn to Taylor who has put his pandemic time to good use producing a modified PPG table for four leagues that involve some local clubs including his own.
“The simplest method I could come up with was to take the number of points you’ve got divided by the number of games you’ve played then multiplied by the number of games you’ve got to catch up.”
Taylor also has compiled tables for NPL2 and all State Leagues involving local clubs and based on the pandemic putting a full stop on the current season now without taking into consideration outstanding games.
Based on applying just two-up promotion to this basic PPG Mornington and Pines remain the only local clubs to go up.
Meanwhile the four-match suspension handed down to Somerville player-coach David Greening after his send off in the club’s last State 4 South match in July could effectively end his season.
That of course depends on whether or not Victoria navigates a path clear of the current virus outbreak.
Despite Somerville lying second-bottom in the league Greening says that relegation still won’t come into play.
“We were never in danger of relegation,” he said.
“Relegation this year was the bottom team in South versus bottom in East playing off to see who might be relegated.
“Dingley’s withdrawal (from State 5 South) means they would take that spot and keep the bottom in East up.
“In my opinion it should be two up two down as it keeps things alive so hopefully they’ll revert back to that if we ever get another full season.”