NEXT Thursday is looming as D-Day for the merger talks between Maryborough Castlemaine District Football Netball League clubs Royal Park and Rovers.
The two Maryborough-based clubs have held discussions with the MCDFNL and VCFL about a possible merger from next season as both clubs struggle for numbers.
Talks continued earlier this week, with another meeting between the MCDFNL, VCFL and Royal Park next Thursday night to be pivotal in establishing the direction forward.
“We’re catching up next week with Royal Park and, in the meantime, doing a bit more work on some concerns that were tabled this week when we all got together,” MCDFNL general manager Rod Ward said.
“After next Thursday’s meeting we’ll have a pretty good indication of where we’ll be heading... we expect we’ll be able to say afterwards that we seriously think it (the merger) will happen, or it’s off the table.
“It has been approached really well by both clubs, but there are a few concerns that have been put on the table that we need to look into, which is why we’ve given ourselves another week to do that.
“Our priority is to work with the two clubs to come up with something they are attracted to, but if they aren’t, we respect their right to make their own decision.”
Royal Park – which hasn’t won a premiership since 1982 – has been in decline on the field since it last made finals in 2006.
The Tigers have won one game in each of the past two years, and are headed for a winless season this year as their thrashings continue to mount.
Royal Park’s average losing margin in its 13 games so far this year is 154 points, while last week it was on the end of a 319-point hammering from Maldon.
Rovers have been a regular finalist in recent years, but have dropped away this year after a promising start.
While Rovers – who last tasted premiership success in 1991 – have been able to win four games, they have endured three matches where they’ve only kicked one goal.
Their struggle for numbers is evident in their reserves side, which is winless and with a percentage of just 7.75, having lost its 13 games by an average of 157 points.
The gaping gulf between the MCDFL’s strongest and weakest sides was evident last weekend when the top seven played the bottom seven, with the margins of 319, 148, 120 98, 93, 52 and 46 points.
“That is a concern... in an ideal world every competition is even, but we don’t have salary caps or drafts like the AFL has,” Ward said.
“In that sense, the MCDFNL is like most footy leagues in the state where there is a disparity between the top and bottom teams.”