Sunbury keen to talk to BFNL about joining league

SUNBURY Football Club has contacted the Bendigo Football Netball League about the prospect of joining the league as early as next year.

Sunbury informed the Ballarat Football League that it is exploring its options about a possible move, with Bendigo and the Riddell District Football League heading the list of suitors.

AFL Central Victoria regional manager Justin Abrams said the BFNL was yet to discuss Sunbury.

"Sunbury contacted us via e-mail,'' Abrams said.

"We have a board meeting tonight (Friday) and we'll talk about it then.

"We're not actively chasing another club. Our short-term goal is to make sure the clubs we have are strong.

"If a club like Sunbury happens to want to join our league then we'd be mad not to talk to them.

"It's very early days at the moment."

Abrams said he understood Sunbury's preferred option was the Riddell league.

Sunbury will meet with the Ballarat officials on Sunday, May 25 to discuss its future in the league after club supporters questioned the club's relevance to Ballarat.

Club president Phil Lithgow said the movement was simply an "exploration of options at the moment," in that there was still a lot of discussions that needed to be held.

Lithgow said the geographic position of Sunbury made it difficult to find a suitable home to play high quality football.

He said the club had ruled out moving to the neighbouring Essendon District Football League, since it would be unable to compete with player payments in that league.

"It's not that we're unhappy with the league. In fact, I think the respect we have for the league is the one thing that has kept us here for so long," Lithgow said.

"We're in a funny geographic position that makes it difficult for us to find a home."

Sunbury moved to the BFL in 1997 after crossing from the RDFL when it disbanded its two-tier system, winning three consecutive premierships upon entering the league.

The Lions have won five flags in 17 years in Ballarat to date and is yet to miss a finals series.

In a statement on its website, Ballarat Football League operations manager Aaron Nunn said the league would sit down with Sunbury and discuss future options.

"It goes without saying that the BFL is committed to working with the Sunbury through this process, and we regard them as an important and highly regarded member of our league," Nunn said.

"However, we respect the right of Sunbury to consider all options available to them for a long term and viable future, and we recognise the important role the club plays in their community."

Clubs have until the end of July to apply to move to another league for 2015.

- with Ballarat Courier.

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