Weekly Times |THE reduced Alberton Football League is getting back on track.
The Gippsland-based competition was reduced from 12 clubs to seven this year after five clubs moved into the new West Gippsland competition.
The reduction has been a source of tension between the league and AFL Gippsland, whose review led to the formation of the new competition — albeit it intended for eight clubs to remain in Alberton but one club, Korumburra-Bena, successfully appealed to AFL Victoria to leave.
The Alberton league dumped AFL Gippsland’s administrative services in the off-season.
However, league president Barry Stride said relations between the two parties “have changed dramatically in the past month ... we have been working extremely well together”.
He said they had been working together on player points and salary cap matters, and were finetuning details on an affiliation agreement, which the league was yet to sign earlier this week.
“It was always going to heal itself, it was just going to take a matter of time and let’s face it there’s still people out there that are not happy with what happened,” Stride said.
While Stride said the league was “very happy with the competitiveness and the enthusiasm of the clubs” it was disappointed with the junior football situation.
The league was forced to drop its under-15 competition this year and Stride said the league would look at ways the issue could be addressed.
AFL Gippsland region general manager Travis Switzer said while the results in West Gippsland and Ellinbank and District leagues, which also sacrificed clubs to the new competition, were competitive there would be challenges for Alberton. The margins in the three Round 1 games ranged from 64 to 130 points but there have been closer games since.
“Round 1 the results were a little bit uneven, so that was a concern but it’s been much better footy the last couple of weeks and I think it’s too early to gauge the competitive balance of the league,” he said.
“We’re concerned about their junior numbers and that’s something we’re very keen to talk to the league about.”