TAREE Wildcats Football Club president Shannon Hall believes the club should be part of the 2023 Coastal Premier League, despite the difficulties faced this year.
"As far as we're concerned, we'll be in it again next season,'' Mr Hall said.
The Wildcats would appear to be the Football Mid North Coast club in the most danger of missing out when the CPL reverts from 12 clubs to 10 next year. The CPL is run by Football Mid North Coast and North Coast Football.
FMNC chairman Lance Fletcher said all clubs in both zones would be given the opportunity to nominate for the CPL, with Friday, December 2 the deadline.
A decision on the makeup of the competition is expected to be made at a meeting of the two boards on Monday, December 5. All clubs in the two zones have been informed of the criteria required to join the CPL.
Mr Fletcher confirmed the CPL would be reduced to 10 clubs. He hopes the split in FMNC and North Coast clubs would remain even, with five from each zone.
He also expects the 12 incumbent clubs would nominate for next year.
The Wildcats didn't win a game in first grade last season in a year marred by wet weather. COVID-related problems and injuries saw the Wildcats struggle for player numbers. Taree has been a member of the CPL since the inaugural year of 2020 when 10 clubs were involved.
This was increased to 12 for 2021 with the inclusion of Southern United from Forster-Tuncurry and Bellingen, but clubs favour a return to a 10 club format.
Southern United has already lodged an application to stay in the league, a club official confirmed.
"As far as we're concerned we have a licence agreement and an email from (FMNC general manager) Bruce Potter guaranteeing our spot in whatever the highest competition Football Mid Coast Football can offer,'' Mr Hall said.
Mr Hall maintains the Wildcats meet the criteria set down to play in the CPL.
"But they will take into account previous results. We meet all the criteria but if we are excluded it will come down to performances,'' he said.
Mr Hall coached the first grade team last season. He said the Wildcats were competitive at the start of the competition but the struggles started when continual rain saw them unable to train for more than a month.
"Up at Coffs they could train on synthetic surfaces, but we couldn't train for something like five weeks. Things went backwards from there,'' he said.
He added the players are keen to stay in the CPL, particularly the younger contingent.
"They still have that drive to play at a higher level. There's not much for them here in the local league,'' he said.
Mr Hall said the club hasn't made any decision regarding an appeal should the Wildcats be excluded.
"We'll cross that bridge if we get to it,'' he said.
"And all this depends on them getting enough nominations (for the CPL). It does make it a bit hard with two associations trying to run an inter-association competition that isn't a knockout.
"The idea is right, but how they've presented it is a bit howdy doody in my opinion.''
Sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.