The feud between the Emu Valley Cricket Association board and the Emu Valley Cricket Umpires Association took an unexpected turn on Friday.
On Friday morning the umpires' $100 fine was paid by one of the EVCA clubs and the league board contacted the umpiring body to say they could officiate this weekend's matches.
However, the EVCUA rejected the offer and informed the EVCA to pay the $100 back to the club.
"Nothing has changed as far as we are concerned,'' EVCUA president Tony O'Connell said.
"The fine was paid, but it wasn't by the umpires, so what we said still stands.
"We appreciate the gesture by the club, but the issues we have in the by-law book haven't changed.
"We don't agree with the rules the league has introduced in regards to umpires. The EVCA shouldn't be allowed to fine us.
"It's the players who pay the umpires each week, not the league. We won't be officiating until they look at the issues we want addressed. They've just ignored them."
EVCA president Ron Gray said he was disappointed the EVCUA didn't take up the offer to officiate this weekend.
"We informed the umpires they could umpire this round and that we'd call a special meeting to resolve the issues for the remainder of the year,'' Gray said.
"The umpires, in their wisdom, declined the offer to have the fine paid.
"They've been given the opportunity to umpire this round, but they refuse to umpire. They want some rules in the rule book changed in regards to the EVCA board's power over the EVCUA in disciplinary matters. They want a few rules changed, but I can't see that happening."
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As of 5pm on Friday evening, all EVCA matches on Saturday will be officiated by players.
"Unfortunately, the clubs will umpire themselves,'' Gray said.
"I'm reasonably confident we'll be fine because of the five games the clubs umpired last year when the umpires refused to officiate because they had to wear a mask (during the COVID-19 pandemic). There were no issues of note from those games last year.
"The players and clubs realise what's going on and the ball is back in everyone's court to put their best foot forward for the betterment of the game."
On the field, round three of division one action is highlighted by the clash between Marong and Mandurang at Malone Park.
The Panthers have one win and a tie from two matches, while Mandurang is unbeaten on the back of two big wins over Sedgwick and Axe Creek.
Reigning premier Emu Creek will try to open its account for the season against West Bendigo at Ken Wust Oval. In other matches, California Gully hosts United, while Axe Creek faces a daunting task at home against the powerful Spring Gully line-up.
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