The Bendigo Football Netball League has changed its fixture for this weekend's proposed return to play.
After missing rounds seven and eight because of the COVID-19 lockdown, the league had planned to move straight to round nine this Saturday and then catch up on rounds seven and eight in the following two weeks.
However, the inability of Melbourne-based players to travel to central Victoria to play forced the league into a late change.
With Gisborne and Kyneton heaviest hit by the lockdown rules, the league will revert to round seven this Saturday, with the Bulldogs and Tigers scheduled to meet at Gardiner Reserve in Gisborne.
In a league statement, Tomlins said it was a difficult time for the BFNL board and clubs.
"Although some announcements regarding restrictions for community sport were released yesterday, there was a significant amount of critical clarity not provided to leagues and community clubs regarding actual impact to match day operations and logistics.
"Although at this stage, the intent of the BFNL remains to return to competition this weekend provided it is achievable to do so, we will eagerly await further updates from the Victorian Government today, along with the official updated protocols from AFL Victoria and Netball Victoria to fully understand the impact for this weekend's proposed round of matches.
"We appreciate this is an incredibly difficult time for clubs and players to navigate, and ultimately, we are united in our intent to support our players and allow them to return to play when possible.
"With the support from clubs, and understanding every club is impacted in some way this weekend, this change will allow clubs significantly and equally impacted by current metropolitan member restrictions and availability including Gisborne and Kyneton, to co-ordinate a series of agreed modified football and netball matches for premiership points upon our hopeful return this weekend to aid the 2021 BFNL season to remain on track.
"This also maintains our aim to achieve the first cycle of season rounds as soon as possible.
"We thank all clubs for their ongoing cooperation and understanding, as we continue to support players returning to competition.
"Like many other leagues, we will continue to be agile and flexible this season under difficult circumstances that are out of our control.
"We sincerely hope restrictions continue to ease across the next 5 -7 days, which may allow us to welcome our metropolitan members and crowds in general back from next weekend.
"Whilst these necessary amendments to the season are not ideal and we understand levels of resulting frustration and concern, we need to balance our intent to maximise participation opportunities with further consideration for competition integrity, sustainability, and the safety of our local communities in general."
Should round seven go ahead this weekend, the match of the round will be at the QEO where ladder-leader Sandhurst hosts Eaglehawk.
Golden Square is at home to South Bendigo in a crucial contest, while Castlemaine has the daunting task of playing Strathfieldsaye at Tannery Lane.
In the final game of the round, Kangaroo Flat makes the trip to Maryborough.
"We've looked at 1000 different options, but this is the cleanest way to do it,'' Tomlins said.
"We're hoping by next week the restrictions will ease and we'll be able to have Melbourne-based players return.
"We'll go to round eight next week (June 19) and then round nine the following week (June 26).
BFNL round 7 this Saturday (home teams listed first):
Sandhurst v Eaglehawk
Maryborough v Kangaroo Flat
Golden Square v South Bendigo
Gisborne v Kyneton
Strathfieldsaye v Castlemaine
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