Echuca Football Netball Club will play its Easter Saturday game against Rochester after it withdrew its grievance application.By Zach Hubber
Echuca Football Netball Club has withdrawn its grievance application with the Goulburn Valley Football League and will play at Rochester on Easter Saturday.
In a dramatic turnaround, the club’s decision stems from its disappointment that the league accepted a request by Rochester to also attend the meeting scheduled for tonight and did not want the public perception to be Echuca against Rochester.
Newly appointed Echuca president Brett Stevens said the club’s issue was with the league and not Rochester.
‘‘Echuca has a grievance with the Goulburn Valley Football League and we’ve still got a grievance with the Goulburn Valley Football League,’’ he said.
‘‘We are of the opinion that the creation of the 2013 home and away fixture was compromised in the way it was done and several clubs have been extremely disadvantaged by the draw, including ourselves.
‘‘The problem that has eventuated from that is that through various social media, general public talking, even print media and from the league itself, it has been made to look like Echuca has a vendetta against Rochester.
‘‘At no stage has the Echuca Football Club had any issue with the Rochester Football Club but we are of the opinion that we’re being perceived as making this an issue between Echuca and Rochester.’’
The Murray Bombers invoked the grievance procedure on January 29 in writing, stating its complaints with the draw and its right not to play in Rochester on Easter Saturday.
But on Thursday night the club informed the league it would withdraw its application, nine days after submitting it.
Stevens said he was confident the club would have been successful in its grievance application but that the club’s reputation would have suffered.
‘‘We would have been happy to go to mediation, however the timing of this procedure was such that we’re now getting very close to the Easter game,’’ he said.
‘‘We think that whilst we would win, in the eyes of the general public we’d still be losers.’’
Stevens said he was focused on the ongoing betterment of the club and would continue to discuss what he said was the unfairness of the draw with the league in the coming weeks.
He said the club would look at other avenues for income after missing out on hosting both the Easter and Queen’s Birthday weekends.
‘‘It will financially impact on the club, but the club is strong and we will overcome those issues by organising other fundraising events,’’ he said.
‘‘Of course Easter is an outstanding opportunity for Echuca to capitalise on tourists to the town rather than raising money from the same local people.
‘‘It’s also an opportunity to showcase the Goulburn Valley Football League to a much wider audience.’’
Stevens said the league had missed a big opportunity to showcase its brand to a wider audience.
‘‘I find it amazing that the Goulburn Valley Football League would even consider that you don’t play a game in Echuca at Easter,’’ he said.
‘‘We agree that any club in the Goulburn Valley Football League has the right to play a home game on Easter Saturday, that goes without saying.
‘‘But the league’s responsibility is to all its member clubs and must do what is to the benefit of all clubs. We are of the opinion that in this instance they ratified a draw that was formulated by a group of clubs.
‘‘I can understand clubs putting forward to the league that this is what should happen, but surely the league is the one who finalises the draw and they’re the ones who have to look at it objectively as what is best for all their clubs, not what is best for some clubs.’’
GVFL general manager Keith Wellman did not want to comment on Echuca’s withdrawal when contacted by the Riv.
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