CLUB leaders have expressed their surprise AFL Riverina have settled on a mid-September end date to complete their finals series, with Ganmain-Grong Grong-Matong president Jason Hamblin adamant clubs would have been prepared to play deeper into the year if needed.
AFL Riverina sent a memorandum to clubs on Monday confirming the longest they're prepared to wait for the Farrer League and Riverina League grand finals to take place is September 18 and 19 respectively, or no premierships will be awarded.
A four-team, two-week final series has been set for both leagues, with semi finals on September 4-5 and grand finals on September 11-12.
The entire Farrer League finals series will be played at Robertson Oval, and the Riverina League at Narrandera Sportsground.
The Lions finished on top of the ladder, and will now play fourth-placed Coolamon in a knockout final.
Hamblin had suggested the league go on a hiatus of about three weeks in order to find some clear scheduling room after lockdown.
He was surprised they hadn't adopted a similar stance to Football Wagga and Group Nine, who are proposing to play on as long as October 17.
"I don't believe the league should be putting and end date on it, I disagree on that," he said.
"I said to them to put footy on hiatus for free weeks instead of putting the guesswork in.
"If other codes are playing in October and we don't get a result, if everything gets lifted and goes back to normal, (it's not ideal).
"At the end of the day I'm pretty confident volunteers of the teams left in the finals just won't throw their hands in the air and call it quits. We could get people from outside to do catering so you're not putting stress on them.
"Narrandera hasn't got a cricket pitch, Maher Oval doesn't either, it's only Robertson Oval you have to worry about.
"I feel they've painted themselves into the corner with an end date."
Second-placed Mangoplah-Cookardinia United-Eastlakes will now take on Wagga Tigers in a cut-throat semi final.
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Goannas coach Jeremy Rowe was sympathetic to the logistics and information officials need to sort through to come to what they feel is the best way possible to ensure finals are played.
But he is of the opinion an avenue to buy everyone more time could be found.
"The big thing is I think it would be wrong of anyone to be critical of decisions being made, and we said last week we were happy to forego what's best for our club for what's best for our competition," Rowe said.
"We stand by those comments, and I personally stand by those comments. You read between the lines and you can understand what they're trying to achieve, which is for us to play finals footy.
"What they've mapped out is their version of what gives us the biggest likelihood of doing that. You can understand it, and it's important for me not to critique.
"If you're just wanting an opinion, my opinion is we went to probably the worse case scenario seemingly really quickly, and the lack of flexibility with the dates is really surprising.
"From my perspective it's confronting to think in a couple of weeks the season could just be done.
"But I want to stress I'm not being critical and totally understand the difficulties which surround all the logistics and all those things in trying to finish the season."
Marrar president John Carroll also felt the season could have been extended well into October if required.
"We're disappointed at the end of the day that they didn't give it more time. There's time yet, we didn't need to put a deadline on it right now," he said.
"What's the big rush to knock it on the head? There's been a lot of work go into it all year, why make a decision now?
"Letting it go a little bit longer isn't going to hurt anyone else. What we do is not a 16-game thing, it's an all-year round job that you work hard to achieve.
"All the volunteers, all the work the workers have done all year. The players pay for it too, but so do your volunteers, so do your supporters and to not give them the opportunity by giving it a bit more time, is more detrimental to them and their mental health than anything."
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