A BENDIGO-based consortium is believed to be preparing a formal bid for a Victorian Netball League franchise licence.
If successful, the move would give talented players from central and northern Victoria direct access to the state's premier netball competition.
It is understood the local group put in an expression of interest soon after Netball Victoria announced in April there would be a vacancy from the 2015 season.
This followed a three-year VNL review that resulted in nine of the 10 existing franchises being granted automatic licence renewal.
The only club that missed out was Ballarat Pride, but they were invited to reapply for admission to the league, along with other interested parties from across the state.
The Bendigo Advertiser believes groundwork on the bid has been under way for some time, but gained momentum recently when the looming vacancy was confirmed.
The consortium consists of a working party of leading netball identities from the north-central region who have been busy garnering support from the sporting and business communities.
VNL clubs must field teams in the Championship division, Division 1, and 19-and-under levels, as well as satisfying stringent off-court requirements.
These cover areas such as finance and governance, facilities and infrastructure, and player development and welfare.
Detailed submissions from applicants are due to be received by Netball Victoria by this Monday, May 26.
The organisation reportedly received as many as 10 initial expressions of interest.
No one linked to the Bendigo bid wanted to comment publicly at this stage.
But it is seen as a ground-breaking opportunity because it is the first time in the competition's six-year history that a licence has become available.
The VNL was established in 2009, replacing State League as Victoria's top domestic netball competition.
More than half a dozen current and former BFNL players and coaches are travelling regularly to Melbourne and Ballarat to play and train VNL clubs in 2014.