The future of the Mininera and District Football League will be assessed and scrutinised next year as part of an AFL Western District Review.
League board members as well as club representatives were informed of the decision to review the league in 2020 at a club forum at Lake Bolac on Wednesday evening.
AFL Western District regional general manager Rod Ward spoke on a range of topics at the forum.
Ward talked about the upcoming review as well as the recent south west junior football review and he also provided clarification around the differing roles of AFL Western District and the league's board.
He said the review of the Mininera league will take place in 2020, with any potential changes not coming into effect until at least 2021.
Ward said the review is crucial for the league.
"Some recent press has created a bit of uncertainty around the league. This will give us the opportunity to work closely with clubs and the league board to say this is how we want our league to look in the short, medium and long term," he said.
Ward mentioned several key issues the league currently faces including umpire shortages, players doubling up in reserves and seniors as well as an imbalance in the competition, with this year's average senior winning margin above 100 points.
He said growing the league's junior stocks is also a key area that will be addressed.
"One of the priorities is to identify ways to improve the junior structure of the league. The sustainability of senior teams relies on juniors," he said.
Mininera league chairman John Box said it was good to see Ward attend the forum in person to talk about the review.
"It was good having Rod here to explain it, in the past we have been let down with a lack of communication so that was good to see," he said.
"I think everyone is happy to see the review going ahead to see what we can do to help the league."
Ward said there will be three stages of consultation with the review to ensure clubs can have their say.
Penshurst's future in the Mininera league was also mentioned on Wednesday, with the club in the discussion phase of a possible move to the Warrnambool District league.
"They are just considering what is best for their future at this stage," Ward said.
"If they wish to move they must have a club member vote, then apply to the Warrnambool league and have their clubs accept them, and if successful then they must apply to the Mininera league for a clearance. It is quite a lengthy process."
Clubs can apply to change league between August 1 and October 30.
With the possibility of losing a team, the potential of bringing in Smythesdale was once again discussed at the forum, with some clubs concerned the Bulldogs could reapply to join the Mininera league after being knocked back earlier this year.
"AFL Victoria rules say clubs can't reapply to join a league within period of two years unless given special approval," Ward said.
"They have asked for the opportunity to reapply and AFL Victoria has outlined strict criteria they must adhere to do so. There has been no indication shown if they can meet the criteria or if they will reapply. The ball is well and truly in their court."
The league also confirmed locations for key events at the forum, with the Lewis Medal to be held at Willaura Hall on September 9 and Caramut hosting a qualifying final, with other finals venues to be confirmed in coming weeks.
While you're with us, you can now receive updates straight to your inbox each Friday morning from The Ararat Advertiser. To make sure you're up-to-date with all the news from across the Ararat shire, sign up here.
Sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.