By Nick Creely
Cranbourne will officially depart the Outer East Football Netball League next season, with the league opting to formally clear the Eagles out of the competition in a huge development in local football.
In a letter to clubs seen by the Gazette on Thursday, the Outer East has written to Cranbourne, informing the club that the position of the Commission is that they cannot continue to have disruptions, and that the league is no longer an option for them in 2022, informing them that they will clear them to the Southern Football Netball League.
The decision, according to the Outer East, relates to the desire to create more stability for its clubs and the competition’s future beyond 2022.
The Southern league has been informed of this decision, who have already accepted Doveton into the competition next season. The Doves are entering Division 2 of Southern.This comes after the Eagles’ long and extensive application process with the MPNFL, and after informing the league that they intend on meeting with Southern, but essentially the Outer East has taken the decision out of Cranbourne’s hands.
The Eagles had initially intended to apply to join the MPNFL once again, but withdrew the application before it went to a vote.
There will now be 23 senior football clubs in 2022, while the Outer East continues to work with both Berwick and Beaconsfield’s netball clubs regarding next year and beyond.
Outer East plans to provide some clarity in coming weeks to clubs, but remain adamant the decision was made to settle the league into the future and are confident in what the competitions look like from a competitive balance perspective.
However, it has been confirmed that Outer East is planning on retaining three divisions next season, though two will be supported if that is the view of clubs. Concerns surrounding the gap between sides in divisions is being considered.
From a fixturing perspective, 10, nine and seven-team divisions are the most equitable, according to the letter.
Outer East has sent clubs a competition survey for the structure of next season, with the results and official position to be released in coming weeks.
Cranbourne president Shane Baker said the club met on Thursday night, and said there was overwhelming support for the move to Southern.
“They reserve the right to do it as much as we deserve the right to do our due diligence, so it is what it is now,” he said.
“We’ve made it clear that our future lies elsewhere, and that’s what we’re focused on now – we’ll make sure we do what’s right for the club.”
The club sent the application off on Friday and the league met on Monday, where it should be a seamless approval. The Eagles are hoping to enter Division 1 in 2022.
Baker said there was no bad blood with the Outer East, and wants to move forward for what’s best for the Cranbourne Football Club.
“It’s always been about getting the best fit – we’ve spoken to some leagues because if we don’t do the full research then we never know what’s out there,” he said.
“It’s nothing against Outer East, they’ve been great to deal with, and wish them well. We just need to find an area that suits us.”