EDDY Comelli President Central Highlands Football Netball League confirmed that a meeting would be held this Wednesday between the presidents and one of the agenda items is discussing the leagues structure. We asked Mr Comelli for a comment on the wide gap in the 18 club lead between the top place getters and the bottom half and whether there was any plan to make the competition more even. “My only comment to that would be, and there is an article in last week’s Weekly Times highlighting that most leagues in the country have got big gaps from top to bottom and it’s just a problem with population shifts and things like that,” he said. “A lot of sides are struggling to field sides and struggling to stay competitive. “So my comment is that we have been requested by a couple of our clubs to have a look at it, and as per any request that our clubs put forward, as a board and as a league we will discuss it.” Mr Comelli sympathized with the bottom side in the CHFL saying they unfortunately had a long way to go to get out of that position.
“Having been out there, they are having a lot of trouble getting supporters and I don’t know if they were winning games whether they would get a few more people through the gate,” he said. “Carngham-Linton is the side that has relaunched the proposal, they first put it up in 2012 and have put the proposal in again to split the league in an eastwest sort of thing but my feeling is that is not the way it will go. “As a league we are not about forcing anybody to do anything. We will certainly be asking how many clubs want to look at a proposal to perhaps split the league and depending on the reaction we get from the clubs…you will find three or four that are really keen on it, but getting the formula right – I don’t think splitting it nine to nine will work. “The clubs that have been in the Central Highlands for a long time, about a dozen of them, will not want to go into a lower competition, for want of a better word.” Mr Comelli said he was disappointed when Lexton Plains Football League folded.
He feels they should have gone out and tried to ‘pinch’ a few clubs from CHFL or Maryborough Castlemaine or another league to ‘top it up a bit’. “The standard of football that they were in was their standard at the time and unfortunately they have come into the Central Highlands and found it hard,” Mr Comelli said. “Anyway they have come into our league and we have to try and help them. “For all the bad publicity the Central Highlands Football League gets, we had twelve teams when we started this process in the mid nineties. We took on Beaufort when they wanted to leave Ballarat, then we took on Daylesford, then when they disbanded the Lexton Plains we took on four more teams. “We feel we’ve been belted from pillar to post and all we’ve ever done is been good for football in the region.”
“We will get over this hurdle. We will solve it and go forward and will get better out of it. We are not about forcing clubs to do what they don’t want to do. That is one thing I am dead set against. As a board we will listen to our members clubs and then the decisions we make will reflect the wishes of the majority of the member clubs for the benefit of the Central Highlands Football League.”