FOOTBALL Mid North Coast’s board of management will review the number of clubs the FMNC premier league can sustain following the withdrawal of Port FC from this year’s competition.
Nine clubs will now contest the league this year – the same as 2016 when Old Bar dropped out. Wauchope was readmitted for this year, lifting the number to 10 before the loss of FC. Football Mid North Coast’s board had earlier nominated 10 as the preferred number of clubs in the competition.
FC, a foundation member of what was then known as the Oxley-Manning Premier League in 2000, cited a lack of numbers for the decision. The board initially gave the club an extension in an attempt to boost the player strength. however, FMNC chairman Mike Parsons confirmed FC was forced to pull out this week.
“It’s extremely disappointing for the club,’’ Mr Parsons said.
“This is a demographic issue we face, we have kids who have to leave the area for uni or work and that leaves a void.
“That leaves clubs struggling for players in a particular age bracket.’’
There were three Port Macquarie-based clubs in the league last year and they filled the bottom three places on the ladder.
“The other Hastings clubs may benefit from the loss of Port FC through player movements, although FC may want to enter a club in our northern all age competition,’’ Mr Parsons said.
“The board will do everything we can to help the club rebuild.’’
While it hasn’t been discussed at board level yet, Mr Parsons thinks it unlikely another club would be willing to step into the void and make a 10th club in the premier league. Old Bar president Warren Steedman told the Times earlier this year his club will use this year to consolidate before seeking a return to the premier league in 2018.
“This isn’t the end of the world for our competition,’’ Mr Parsons added.
“Last year we had a strong competition – it was one of our best years - with nine clubs.
“Some clubs do appreciate a bye during the year to have a break and freshen up the players, because it is a long season.’’
However, he said a review on the number of clubs the premier league can sustain will be carried out by the board. He said a wide range of opinions will be sought with significant input from the member clubs.
“Whether we can sustain 10 clubs at this point is something we’ll have to consider,’’ he said.
“Possibly nine or even eight clubs might be the optimum that we can run with at this point. The premier league is our major competition and we want people to aspire to play in it.’’
Clubs from Forster-Tuncurry to Kempsey play in the premier league, including one from the Manning – Taree Wildcats. The new season will start on April 22.