TAREE Wildcats president Ben Sedlen believes Football Mid North Coast should stick with nine premier league clubs.
Mr Sedlen has given guarded support to a bid by Wauchope to stay in the competition in 2019.
Wauchope will be relegated to the Northern League next year as the premier league drops to eight clubs. Football Mid North Coast’s board announced last year that the club finishing last in first grade after the 2018 season-proper would be relegated in 2019. The board believes an eight club premier league is more sustainable for this area.
However, Wauchope has contacted the eight other premier league clubs seeking support to remain in the competition.
Wauchope president Dane Seymour said he has been encouraged by the response.
Mr Seymour argued that cutting clubs out of the competition is not the way to grow the code.
“Since I moved here in 2012 we’ve lost Wingham, Old Bar and Port FC from the premier league. Now it looks as though we’re going to lose Wauchope,’’ he said.
While Wauchope clearly finished in last spot in first grade this year the club was sixth in reserve grade, just two points out of the five.
Mr Seymour said Wauchope was generally competitive in first grade, pointing out the club only rejoined the premier league at the start of the 2017 season.
“If we were getting beaten by 10 goals every week I’d be the first to say we don’t belong,’’ he said.
Mr Seymour said Wauchope has a strong junior base – the under 15s won the Northern League this year. And he said juniors need a premier league club to aspire to play with.
He understands the board made the decision following consultation with clubs, however he hasn’t given up hope that there could be a rethink.
Mr Sedlen said the Wildcats haven’t discussed the matter at committee level. However, his own opinion is that nine clubs works for the premier league.
“I think we should be growing the competition, not culling clubs,’’ he said.
He said a nine club competition with a bye has advantages.
“We play a two round 18 game season and clubs get a break each round with a bye,’’ he said.
“If we go back to eight clubs that’s 14 games and that’s too short. If we play three rounds that’s 21 games and that’s too long.’’
FMNC will reintroduce the promotion/relegation system from the end of next season, meaning clubs from the northern and southern leagues can look to earn a place in the premier league providing they meet strict criteria.
However, Mr Seymour said it is a big step for clubs to get resources and player depth in place to be in a position to challenge for a place in the elite competition.
Old Bar won this year’s southern league, finishing the season unbeaten, but club president Alan Sercombe said the Barbarians have no intention of seeking a return to the premier league in the immediate future.
Mr Sedlen added that while he sympathises with Wauchope, all clubs were aware of the board’s decision at the start of the year.
“I’m not sure how Wauchope’ll go getting the board to change their mind now,’’ he said.