AFL Riverina has called off the remainder of the 2021 season.
One final endeavour to play the finals series across the four competitions was knocked back by the NSW Government on Saturday night and AFL Riverina informed clubs of the decision on Sunday morning.
It means the finals series for the Riverina and Farrer League senior competitions, as well as the Wagga and District and South West junior leagues, will not go ahead as planned.
The likelihood of the finals series going ahead was quashed on Thursday when, despite the region going out of lockdown, NSW deputy premier John Barilaro declared community sport would not go ahead until 80 per cent vaccination rates were reached.
AFL NSW-ACT, with the support of AFL Riverina, applied to hold the finals series under the major recreational facility banner, which included ticketing, but the application was rejected.
AFL community football manager for regional NSW and ACT, Marc Geppert, was left to deliver the 'extremely difficult' decision.
"Our last real remaining option was to apply to sector capability, which is a unit within NSW Government which looks at outdoor events. That was probably our last available option to apply for more controlled circumstances around ticketing, seating, similar to our AFL Riverina finals last year," Geppert said.
"We were told (Saturday) night that it won't apply to community sport. So that was our last option apart from the government changing their mind about community sport.
"It was obviously disappointing news to get that back but it falls in line with the messaging that we're getting from the government, in that there is no community sport.
"It was our last hoorah and we didn't get the answer that we wanted."
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Geppert said he understood it was a disappointing way to end the season, especially considering the inconsistencies within what is and is not allowed in the current climate.
"It is disappointing, in saying that I knew that there was a very, very small percentage of it being successful. I certainly didn't have my hopes up but it just doesn't help that all of that advice doesn't really line up," he said.
"There's some inconsistencies there and that's what makes it hard for people to swallow, there's a little bit of grey area, which always gives people a bit of hope. But in this case, the NSW government were pretty clear that it wouldn't apply to AFL Riverina this time around. That's where we're at."
AFL Riverina had revised their plans for the finals series and were willing to go until October 2-3 to get a grand final played in the Riverina and Farrer Leagues.
The seasons will now be cancelled with no premierships awarded. Each respective league presentation night and vote counts will be held online in coming weeks.
"We're working through the specifics of that at the moment, we'll look to try and cap off the season as best we can but unfortunately the only way we can do that at the moment is an online environment," he said.
"We'll try our best to recognise volunteers and individuals for the year they've had because it's been another extremely draining year for everyone involved and if we can get some sort of finish to it, then that's what we're going to try and do."
The Hume League also cancelled its season on Sunday.
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