HAVING experienced Bendigo’s VFL team at both a local level and with Essendon, AFL Central Victoria regional manager Paul Hamilton believes the right call at the right time has been made to end it.
Hamilton has worked closely with the Bendigo Gold since taking on the role of AFLCV regional manager last year.
However, he also had an involvement with Bendigo’s VFL team when it was aligned with Essendon, with Hamilton having spent four years as the AFL club’s football manager.
Hamilton’s tenure at Essendon included 2012 when the alignment between the Bombers and Bendigo ended following a decade.
“I’ve seen the Bendigo VFL model in a couple of different roles over a number of years and it’s a credit to all the people, players, administrators and commercial partners, particularly the Bendigo Bank, that there has been a VFL team function in Bendigo,” Hamilton said.
“It has never been easy and that’s why it has been a fantastic effort by all those people who have committed their time and effort.
“Even during the alignment with Essendon it was very difficult for Bendigo, and when you look at the number of times that, unfortunately, the club has been bailed out, that’s indicative of the difficulties it faced.
“The Bendigo Bank helped out, AFL Victoria helped out a number of times and Essendon put a substantial amount of money into it.”
Hamilton said it was credit to all involved in Bendigo’s VFL history - through the Diggers, Bombers and Gold - to keep the club alive for 17 years without the revenue stream generated from a home base.
“You only need to have a look at the other stand-alone VFL teams... they have all got really strong secure home bases and income-generating assets,” Hamilton said.
“The Gold has never had that and that has been the difficulty they have faced all the way through and it all seems to come back to that.
“Having worked closely with the Gold, I only have admiration for Tim (Dickson, executive chairman) and Aussie (Jones, coach) and the work they have put in.
“But the reality has hit home in terms of the money required to run not only a VFL team, but any state team, is substantial.”
The Gold made its announcement on Wednesday night that it won’t be renewing its licence to give all those involved with the club the chance to begin preparing for next year.
“We would have loved to see the continuation of a VFL team, but it’s not sustainable in the current model,” Hamilton said.
“With the timing of it, they could have put it off for another couple of months, but it’s the right call at the right time.”