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Commission Hands Down Drastic Recommendations

The AFL Central Murray Commission has handed down its recommendations to all clubs in the Golden Rivers and Central Murray football leagues last night in Swan Hill, with immediate disagreement being shown as football in the Mallee faces a shaky future.

Chair of the Central Murray Football Commission Neville Brady suggested last night the Central Murray and Golden Rivers leagues should merge boards to improve their wider scope of management, that juniors playing squads within both leagues should be reduced to 20-a-side (including bench) and that junior player restriction caps should apply, with the sole interest of keeping all clubs running and within their current leagues.

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Brady was emphatic in saying the leagues would not be heading towards a merger, instead also suggesting the Regional Administration Centre could assist clubs with their day-to-day operations to strengthen clubs and release the burden of dwindling club volunteers.

Scarcity was the key phrase of the evening, with insufficient numbers within both the juniors and seniors systems forcing the commission to consider drastic measures to preserve the league's current structure.

The figures provided show that the North West region of Victoria has one of the highest rates of participation per head in the state, limiting the possibility of simply adding more players to the systems from elsewhere.

The study also found that 1 in every 7.5 players travel from Melbourne to Bendigo to participate.

Clubs are also being asked to complete a health audit and a long-term plan which involve targets required to be met, with the results set to be telling as to what clubs will be sustainable into the near and long-term future.

Brady said the ideas may not be popular now, but they are imperative to survival.

"Especially with the juniors policies, one or two of the clubs which have an abundance of juniors are going to push back, and we understand that," Brady said.

"They don't want to turn people away from their clubs; but if we've got a regional view, we need to push our areas of abundancy into our areas of scarcity."

Clubs within both leagues have three weeks to officially cite any problems they have with the recommendations, before the Commission meets again in a month to re-evaluate and decide on particular measures.

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