FOOTBALL Mid North Coast will keep a vacancy open for a club from this zone in next year's Coastal Premier League (CPL).
This follows the withdrawal of Wallis Lake from the competition to kickoff for the first time in 2020.
If there's no replacement for Wallis, nine clubs, four from Football Mid North Coast and five from the Coffs Harbour-based North Coast Football will contest the CPL next year. Under the original plan 10 clubs were to be involved, five from FMNC and five from North Coast Football.
Wallis Lake, the reigning Football Mid North Coast Premier League champions, were the only club from the southern section of this zone to nominate. However, the club informed the zone of its intention to withdraw last week.
Club secretary, Kevin Stevens, told the Great Lakes Advocate the decision was unfortunate but unavoidable.
"The travel commitments are too far," he said.
"All the players want to play at the highest level possible, but it's too much demand on their time on a Saturday."
Football Mid North Coast chairman Mike Parsons said the CPL will proceed with the nine clubs.
"We're all systems go with the Coastal Premier League for next year, 100 per cent,'' he said.
"We're certainly not hitting the panic button.''
Clubs accepted into the CPL have been granted three year licences. Mr Parsons remains confident a replacement for Wallis Lake would be found within three seasons. He rejected a suggestion that the CPL is only be viable for FMNC clubs in the Hastings and Macleay areas because of the travel involved. The four FMNC clubs remaining in the CPL are Port United, Port Saints, Kempsey Saints and Macleay Valley. Other former FMNC premier league clubs, Taree Wildcats, Tuncurry-Forster, Wauchope and Camden Haven didn't seek a place in the CPL.
"We're one zone,'' Mr Parsons said.
"We're not Manning, we're not Hastings and we're not Macleay. We're not northern and southern. And I think when clubs see what we're looking to achieve with the Coastal Premier League they will see the advantages. The CPL is still very much in its embryonic stage.''
Mr Parsons said he wished Wallis Lake 'all the best for whatever path they choose.'
He accepts that club in the southern section of the zone are concerned about travel.
"But clubs will only be travelling out of our zone on five occasions during the season and I don't think that's much of an impost,'' Mr Parsons added.
He said FMNC could accept a nomination for a merged franchise of current clubs to play in the CPL.