Football Mid North Coast (FMNC) premier league champions Wallis Lake have withdrawn their nomination for the new Coastal Premier League (CPL) competition scheduled to begin in 2020.
The decision came after 15 players from the 2019 squad voted against playing in the new competition, which will combine clubs from the FMNC premier league and North Coast Football.
Chief among their reasons was the amount of travel involved and the various repercussions these travels would have for both the club and the players.
With a number of players in the team employed as tradesmen, the commitment to travel to anywhere from Port Macquarie to Coffs Harbour for the majority of games in the season would see them miss out on working Saturday mornings.
In addition, the club would stand to lose one of its major sponsors due to not being able to attend their premises after a number of away games.
The travel would also have an impact on junior football at the club, with a number of premier league players no longer able to coach junior teams.
Great Lakes United Football Club secretary, Kevin Stevens, said the decision was unfortunate but unavoidable.
“The travel commitments are too far,” he said.
“All the players want to play at the highest level possible, but it’s too much demand on their time on a Saturday.”
The reasons behind Wallis Lake’s decision echo those expressed by Tuncurry Forster Football Club president, Lance Fletcher, when he announced his club wouldn’t be nominating for the CPL earlier this year.
“All of them (the players) unanimously said they couldn’t do the travel,” Mr Fletcher said.
Wallis Lake are now considering their options for 2020, with the club likely to nominate for the single entry FMNC Zone Premier League competition planned to kick-off in 2020.
However, with only one open men’s team per club allowed to take part in that competition, it will leave the Wallis Lake reserve grade team potentially having to consider the FMNC southern league as their only viable option.
Wallis Lake’s withdrawal will now see just nine teams contest the CPL in 2020, with Kempsey Saints, Macleay Valley Rangers, Port Saints and Port United the only teams joining from the FMNC premier league.
FMNC chairman Mike Parsons rejected the suggestion the CPL would only be viable to FMNC clubs in the Hastings and Macleay areas, remaining confident that a replacement would be found for Wallis Lake in the next three years.
“We’re one zone,” he told Manning River Times sports editor, Mick McDonald.
“We’re not Manning, we’re not Hastings and we’re not Macleay. We’re not northern and southern. And I think when clubs see what we’re looking to achieve with the Coastal Premier League, they will see the advantages. The CPL is still very much in its embryonic stage.”
Mr Parsons wished Wallis Lake “all the best for whatever path they choose.”