THE Bendigo Football-Netball League has earmarked a potential Friday grand final this year as part of its fixture re-shuffling.
Following a meeting with clubs on Thursday night the BFNL has mapped out a way forward off the back of consecutive weekends of matches not being played due to Victorian restrictions, with the league now honing in on Friday, September 24, as its intended grand final day.
Friday, September 24, is the AFL grand final eve public holiday subject to AFL fixturing.
The BFNL grand final date has been shifted from the previous Saturday - September 18 - and if it goes ahead would give the winner of the preliminary final a shortened six-day turnaround.
With the extra week, coupled with the BFNL playing on what had been its July 3 general bye, it means the league can complete a full 18-round season, plus four weeks of finals, before the end of September provided the competition can re-start next weekend on June 12.
A re-start next Saturday, though, would have to be without Melbourne-based players lining up for clubs given the state government has announced Melbourne-based residents won't be able to travel into regional areas over the Queen's Birthday long weekend.
Based off a re-start of games next weekend, the structure for the remainder of the season is as follows:
* June 12 - round nine matches remain as fixtured;
* June 19 - round seven (in place of round 10);
* June 26 - round eight (in place of round 11);
* July 3 - round 10 (in place of general bye);
* Rounds 12-18 remain as originally fixtured;
* August 28 - round 11 (in place of week one finals);
* All finals to be pushed back by one week starting on September 4; and
* Preference is for grand final to be played Friday, September 24.
"The aim of the BFNL will continue to be facilitating a return to community sport and overall participation provided any return is safe, achievable and sustainable," BFNL manager Cameron Tomlins said on Friday.
"With regards to competition, the minimum priority will remain to achieve a full cycle of nine regular season matches as soon as possible that offer each club an opportunity to play each opposition once in the event further interruptions to local seasons are experienced this year.
"A secondary priority is to leave as much of the initial 2021 fixture in place as possible to avoid confusion and allow clubs to retain current facility bookings and any planned club event or fundraiser plans provided they are still able to proceed."
While senior outdoor sport is still on hold - although, training can resume - the easing of regional restrictions on Friday paved the way for junior sport to resume.
But there will be no BFNL under-18 football or 17-under netball games this weekend.
"We acknowledge the different restrictions that are currently applicable to junior and senior grades of competition, but in the short-term will endeavour to ensure all grades of BFNL football and netball stay aligned to reduce the burden on club volunteers," Tomlins said.
"Should extensions to the postponement of senior competition remain beyond June 12 the BFNL will consider the appropriateness to launch under-18 and 17-under grades only."
While the BFNL has a fixture plan in place moving forward, Tomlins said the situation was fluid and would be subject to change dependent on health advice.
"We also acknowledge the differing restrictions currently applicable to residents of Greater Melbourne exist that may prevent such players competing in BFNL competitions for the forseeable future, which will have a varying impact on our affiliated clubs," Tomlins said.
"This, coupled with further challenges such as probably increased short-term restrictions regarding allowable spectator attendance, the ability to use club facilities such as change rooms and social rooms and the ability to proceed with pre-planned fundraisers may increase pressure on clubs to meet fixed financial commitments.
"The BFNL will continue to monitor the applicable health advice, however, our season needs to recommence as soon as practically possible to have the greatest chance of completion as available and necessary time is already against us.
Our season needs to recommence as soon as practically possible to have the greatest chance of completion as available and necessary time is already against usCameron Tomlins - BFNL manager
"The league remains committed to monitoring and reducing financial stress on clubs where possible to ensure sustainability and provide a sound financial footing for 2021 and beyond.
"While these necessary amendments to the season are not ideal and may concern some members, we need to balance our intent to maximise participation opportunities with consideration for competition integrity, sustainability and the safety of our local communities in general."
* June 12 games if permitted - Maryborough v South Bendigo, Kangaroo Flat v Castlemaine, Golden Square v Eaglehawk, Sandhurst v Gisborne, Strathfieldsaye v Kyneton.
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