Out of bounds

The euphoria enjoyed by the players and supporters of the Echunga Football Club after Saturday’s grand final win will no doubt be tempered by the realisation that the club could be demoted to the second tier competition next season.
Despite winning the Central Division A-grade flag in the first season since being promoted from Country Division – possibly the first time this has been achieved – the club faces the very real prospect of being relegated to the competition it fought so hard to leave just 12 months ago.
It is understandably a bitter pill to swallow for the club.
The Hills Football League (HFL) rules clearly state the club with the lowest overall success rate must make way for any qualified club which applies to play in the top division, unless another agrees to step down.
The club rankings are achieved by allocating points for wins in all grades during the season – 10 points for an A-grade win, five points for B-grade and senior colts and three points for junior colts.
However, the HFL by-laws do not state if this calculation ceases at the end of the minor round or if it continues into the finals series.
This grey area could be contested by Echunga which could argue that, if applied, Bridgewater should be demoted to make way for Mt Lofty which must be elevated after making the Country Division grand final.
Mt Lofty not only won that grand final but also won the B-grade, senior colts and Under 13 premierships.
Mt Lofty was demoted last year to make way for Echunga but is clearly too good for the lower division.
Another by-law could be changed at a special meeting if enough clubs support Echunga’s desire to stay in the Hills’ premier competition by increasing the number of teams allowed to join (currently 10).
This could be further confused if Nairne-Bremer – the other Country Division grand finalist – applies to move up into the top division.
Either way the administration of the league is no doubt bracing for a battle. Let’s hope it doesn’t descend to lawyers at 20 paces and both the league’s administrators and club delegates can keep the betterment of football for everyone as their primary objective ahead of parochialism.

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