The prospect of the Bendigo Thunder hitting the field this year has come to an end.
The Northern Football Netball League has announced its decision to cancel its senior football competitions for 2020.
The decision was made collectively with the Eastern Football Netball League and based on recommendations from the league management and includes all senior men's and women's competitions (seniors, reserves and under-19s).
"It's unfortunate, but it is what it is. It's disappointing for the club, but the league has the welfare of all players and the community at heart," Bendigo Thunder president Terry Burt said.
"We were primed for a successful year as we had secured some new recruits, in addition to bringing Shae Murphy on as assistant coach."
However, Burt remained positive and said the team and was focused on 2021.
"Compared to everything that's going on in the world, there are a lot of people who are in more difficult situations than we are," he said.
"There are still a lot of people who are disappointed and shocked the season isn't going ahead. We are now going to rally behind the girls and give them as much support as we can."
NFNL CEO Peter McDougall said the league had undertaken a thorough process with all stakeholders before making the decision, with the plan to now begin the 2021 season with "all clubs in the strongest possible position to succeed in the long term."
"The NFNL has maintained a view throughout this process that we do not want one club to come back next year worse off than they are now," McDougall said.
"All clubs were aware of the challenges associated with managing a reduced season under COVID-19 rules and restrictions and were very open, balanced, and frank about where their club sat.
"Clubs expressed concerns about their financials, player numbers, committees, older volunteers, crowd restrictions and their inability to manage crowds at open public spaces.
"We must make decisions based on what is best in both the short and the long-term. The information we have gathered from our clubs together with the latest medical advice, has determined that cancelling the senior football and netball competitions in 2020 is the only viable option. "The health and safety of the community and club and league sustainability have always been our top priorities."
One positive from the announcement was both the EFNL and NFNL are committed to hold junior football competitions this year.