Sponsorship creates a flow on effect in the local community, as clubs' source products from local sponsors, Heathcote District Football Netball League manager Jan Mannes has said.
Ms Mannes said football had always been run as a business, but the clubs benefited their communities.
"Looking into our league's history back from 1902, it was always a business even though they don't name it a business maybe," Ms Mannes said.
"It was still run like a business because you had to again cover all those areas for all the community, players, both football and netball.
"It's a flow on thing, those communities within the area of the football netball club benefit from having a football netball club ... you're buying from the local community."
Read more: Sponsor struggles as clubs turn to business
The HDFNL has denied that clubs' bars or function centres compete with local businesses such as pubs, in response to a complaint from a team sponsor that his venue was not supported by the team.
The HDFNL club sponsor, who did not want to be named, has said he felt football clubs were making more money than pubs though their own bars, taking away from pubs' trade.
HDFNL chairman Peter Cole said clubs' bars and function centres were primarily for socialising after games, rather than to make money.
He said this did not put pressure on other businesses.
"After the game you mix with the opposition and have a drink," Mr Cole said.
"The beer that they're drinking they would have bought off the publican who was a sponsor.
"We don't sell to lose it, you've got to cover your costs. [The club] would make a percentage out of it, [but] for the hour and a half they're there after the game it's no big deal."
Mr Cole said every club needed sponsors, but that club culture was more important.
Wycheproof's Terminus Hotel owner Sandra Cox told the Bendigo Advertiser she believed payments to players were forcing football netball clubs to run bars and function rooms.
Ms Cox said clubs in small towns needed to pay players to bring them into town.
Mr Cole said paying to attract players was a problem that affected clubs that were more isolated than those in the HDFNL.
He said most of football netball clubs' money went to running costs, such as recruiting, juniors programs, uniforms and repairs, rather than players' salaries.
Most funds came from membership fees, social functions, and other fundraising efforts such as lolly drives, he said.
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