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Legal action to proceed after Murray Shire vote

It was standing room only at a Murray Shire meeting in Mathoura yesterday and councillors opted to go ahead with legal action over the PDFNL decision to hold the grand final in Yarroweyah.

RHIANNON HORRELL August 20, 2014 9:50am
Murray Shire has voted to pursue legal action to get the Picola and District Football Netball League north-west grand final back in Mathoura.
 
But it took a casting vote to get the proposal over the line 5-4.
 
Council then cleared the packed Mathoura Visitor and Business Centre to discuss the financial implications of that decision in confidential.
 
A vocal crowd of about 70 made it standing room only yesterday to hear council’s take on the long-running dispute.
 
The PDFNL made a decision late last week to hold the grand final at Yarroweyah.
 
In a short email sent from the PDFNL to all football and netball clubs in the league at 9.30pm Thursday, it read:
 
‘‘Hi all, please be advised that the Yarroweyah Football Club will be hosting the 2014 North West Grand Final.’’
 
Councillors Chris Bilkey, Betty Murphy, John Pocklington and Bill Anderson voted in favour of legal action while Gavin Burke, Gen Campbell, Geoff Mackenzie and Ian Moon voted against, needing the mayor Tom Weyrich to cast his vote.
 
The council also voted unanimously to support Mathoura Football Club in its fight to regain the grand final.

Cr Bilkey expressed concern the PDFNL had never fully engaged in the mediation process and was met by a round of loud applause when he asked people to determine where their moral compass lay on the issue.
 
Community member and Mathoura business owner Paul Clear gave an emotional speech, saying it was a significant issue to have ‘‘the grand final ripped from the town’’.
 
‘‘It’s a huge blow. I’ve never seen anything like this.’’
 
He said the focus should be on rebuilding a struggling town.
 
‘‘We cannot just survive on local support. We need events to draw people into town.’’
 
AFL Goulburn Murray representative Martin Gleeson also spoke, outlining efforts made to find a resolution.
 
‘‘Our first priority has been to find a solution to allow Mathoura to hold the final.’’
 
Cr Geoff MacKenzie questioned Mr Gleeson about if there was any chance the PDFNL’s decision could be altered.
 
Mr Glesson said it was out of his hands.
 
Netball Victoria representative Pam Ferrarri outlined the courts and the light poles in question were safe.
 
‘‘Netball Victoria assists clubs to work with councils. The majority of clubs and councils have a good working relationship.’’
 
She said 80 per cent of netball courts around the state had minor compliance issues but it did not mean they were not safe to play on.
 
Mathoura Football Club president Tim McCormick was impressed by the show of support.
 
‘‘It’s not just about us — it’s the whole town (the shire) is supporting. It’s about the Mathoura community as a whole that misses out.’’
 
Last night, Mr McCormick was waiting to hear more from the shire about what form legal action would take.
 
Mr McCormick said it would be nine years before Mathoura would get another turn to host a final.
 
PDFNL president Shane Railton did not attend the meeting, but speaking to the Riv by phone, he said it wasn’t Murray Shire’s place to get involved in the dispute.
 
‘‘Any agreement is between the club and the league. It sets a dangerous precedent for country football.
 
‘‘We as a board can’t make a decision on legal action until we see it. comIt’s bizarre. It’s absolutely ridiculous. 
 
‘‘Do they enter into discussions regarding soccer and the ruling bodies of soccer? And other sports? I’ve not received notification from anyone to suggest that the hosting of the PDFNL grand final is anyone’s business other than ours.’’
 
He said the PDFNL had gone out of its way to resolve the issue.
 
When asked if there was any chance Mathoura could regain the chance to host the grand final this year, Mr Railton said it ‘‘was not an option’’.
 
‘‘Moira Shire have already started on works on the Yarroweyah grounds and have agreed to meet all wishes.’’
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