Football Wagga have reaffirmed its finals eligibility policy despite a proposal to loosen restrictions on dual-registered players.
Under current competition guidelines, senior players are eligible to play in the finals series “in the grade in which they have played the majority of their games throughout the league series”.
In the case of a player participating in an equal number of games in more than one grade, they may only play in the higher grade in the finals series.
Speaking on Tuesday, Football Wagga president Tony Dobbins said Wagga City Wanderers would be treated as a higher grade under Football Wagga.
However, this ruling came under fire from Young Lions head coach Mark Mellish, who expressed concern with the policy and how it could affect the availability of players registered to both their local club and the Wagga City Wanderers.
“This is amateur football and it’s all about participation, so why should teams be made to suffer if they have players good enough to dual register?” Mellish said.
If a player is fit enough and it’s not to their detriment and they’re managed through the process, I don’t see why dual registered players shouldn’t be allowed to play in the finals for their local club.Young Lions coach Mark Mellish
Mellish suggested dual registered players should be eligible for finals if they had played two-thirds of their club’s regular season fixtures.
“I believe that gives enough leeway for clashes with club and Wanderers games, injury and unavailabilities,” he said.
“Ultimately, we want the best players participating in the finals.”
Mellish’s proposal was tabled to Football Wagga, however, Dobbins told The Daily Advertiser it would not be considered.
“NSW rules dictate that you can’t be dual registered with a local club and a state league club but the Wanderers were given special approval because we needed to develop the game,” Dobbins said.
The big issue comes around eligibility at finals time … and for us it’s about fairness and equity.FWW president Tony Dobbins
“If you play more games for your club, you can play club finals, but if you play more games for Wanderers, you’re with Wanderers.”
“It’s just an extension of the grade rule … which stops clubs and teams taking advantage of player who participate in both grades.”
Dobbins said all clubs bar Young, who were absent from the meeting, had reaffirmed their commitment.
“Young was not present ... but this is the rule and we wanted the clubs to affirm the rule and they did,” Dobbins said.
“Somewhere along the line you’ve got to make a rule and stick with it.”
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