IRREWARRA-BEEAC and South Colac remain locked in a clearance dispute with Geelong Football League club Colac Tigers regarding two Tigers-contracted footballers.
The dispute has forced Tigers Dillyn Fedley and Luke Nowell to sit out the opening month of the Colac district league season despite their intentions to play with the Bombers and the Roos, and they could stay on the sidelines for the rest of the season if the clubs fail to resolve the dispute.
Fedley told the Colac Herald in December that a different work situation meant he was no longer able to commit to the GFL, and had requested to return to his home club Irrewarra-Beeac.
Nowell, meanwhile, had committed to join South Colac, which the Roos announced in February.
But Colac Football Club officials have declined the players’ clearances due to the players signing contracts last year to remain with the Tigers in 2016.
Colac has cleared other players to Colac district clubs – Jake O’Dwyer to South Colac, Andrew Kelly to Birregurra and Josh Murfitt to Irrewarra-Beeac – but the Colac Herald understands those players had not signed contracts.
Irrewarra-Beeac and South Colac coaches said they understood the Tigers had every right to decline the clearances but, with the players refusing to play with Colac this season, they hoped to come to a solution to allow Fedley and Nowell to play at their clubs.
“Feds has been training with us throughout the whole pre-season,” Bombers coach Dean Scheetz said.
“But obviously he signed a contract and that’s probably the long and short of it, they’re hard to get out of,” he said.
Fedley appealed to AFL Victoria to get out of his contract, but state officials rejected the appeal.
“When he signed a contract he had intentions of playing at Colac but his work situation has changed and, with his new role, he couldn’t put that time into GFL footy,” Scheetz said.
“It’s disappointing for him that he might be forced to sit out because no one wants that, but we respect Colac’s decision, there’s no hard feelings and there was no falling out between anyone,” he said.
South Colac coach Tim Foley, a former Colac Tigers footballer and coach, remained hopeful that South could find a solution with his former club.
“Luke’s been training with the club, he’s been doing everything that a normal player at South would be doing, except for playing,” Foley said.
“We’d like to have Luke involved with our club, but contracts hold weight and we support that, we’ll accept whatever decision Colac makes, the ball’s in their court,” he said.
AFL Barwon football development manager Luke Maher said the Tigers had the power to clear Fedley and Nowell, but supported clubs who expected players to honour their contracts.
“No one likes to see players sitting out football, but every club has different circumstances,” he said.
“So I can certainly respect anyone that wants to hold a player to a contract, they’re not breaking any rules, because that’s what contracts are there for.”