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Hunter’s new Aussie rules

Black Diamond AFL officials remain open to the idea of continuingto run Australian rules competitions in the region next year despite AFL NSW-ACT indicating there will “definitely” be a new league established for2019.
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MARK: Warners Bay Bulldogs player Luke Roach keeps his eye on the ball earlier in the 2018 Black Diamond AFL season. Picture: Jonathan Carroll

The ongoing power strugglebetween two of the sport’sgoverning bodies looks set to endure beyond September’s grand final and well into the off-season before striving towards a resolutionin time forround one next year.

AFL NSW-ACT northern NSW regional manager Simon Smyth told theNewcastle Heraldthis week that there“will definitely be a new AFL affiliated local league next year across junior-senior competitions”.

Smyth said this organisation would “be known as AFL Hunter-Central Coast”, essentially merging theseparate senior (Black Diamond AFL)and junior (AFL Hunter Coast) competitions, introducing anewly “elected” board, “investingin three full-time staff”and providing “additional resourcing and support”.

These changes could seethe Black Diamond AFL name disappear completely at an administration level, but potentially retained in a playing sense with first-grade teams still vying forthe Black Diamond Cup.

President of the current Black Diamond AFL board Wal Bembic said it was a difficult situation surrounded with uncertainty.

“We really hope the AFL [NSW-ACT] can produce a model that everyone is happy with, but at this stage we haven’t seen it,” Bembic told the Newcastle Herald.

“So if the clubs turnaround and aren’t buying what they’re selling and say they want us to keep running it, we will. It’s about doing what’s best for the clubs.”

Clubsmet last week independently of bothparties to discuss optionsbeyond the 2018 season andto help make sense of the proposals being puton the table.

An eight-person “transition working party” was revealed last week and Smyth said the group would be “responsible for supporting the efficient transition from the two existing leagues into the new local league”.

Bembic said he’s heard many people asking “why?”

“If the Black Diamond isn’t really broke, thendoes itneed fixing?” Bembic said.

During the last two seasons Black Diamond AFL have experienced issues with clubs Newcastle City, Terrigal Avoca and Cardiff over theplayer points systemand the controversial equalisation policy.

Amalgamation between the AFL Hunter Coast juniors and Black Diamond AFL seniors to a single governance model was voted down in March.

The Black Diamond AFL’s current affiliation agreement with AFLNSW-ACT expires on October 31.

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