Hunter and Central Coast junior and senior Australian rules governing bodies to vote on amalgamation

DECISION TIME: Will the region's senior and junior Australian rules governing bodies amalgamate in 2018?
DECISION TIME: Will the region's senior and junior Australian rules governing bodies amalgamate in 2018?

Amalgamation not affiliation will be the main point of order at two crucial Australian rules meetings for the sport’s junior and senior governing bodies in the Hunter and Central Coast region over coming days.

AFL Hunter Coast (juniors) and the Black Diamond AFL (seniors) will vote on Sunday and Monday respectively about joining forces under one banner in 2018.

The organisations have traditionally been their own separate entities, but the option to merge will be put to the 30-plus clubs. 

If successful the Newcastle Herald understands the new group would be known as AFL Hunter Central Coast and come under the guidance of AFL NSW-ACT.  

A 75 per cent yes vote is required to pass the motion at each meeting. If not passed the status quo remains.

“Whatever the clubs think is best for now and the future,” Black Diamond AFL operations manager Garry Burkinshaw said.   

“We’ll accept and support whatever decision is made without hesitation. Then, at the end of it all, we just want to focus on the football.” 

This comes after the Black Diamond recently confirmed a long-debated affiliation with AFL NSW-ACT for 2018.

The decision followed the Black Diamond’s implementation last month of a player points system across the board in first grade to replace last year’s equalisation policy that affected recruitment at only dominant clubs Newcastle City and Terrigal Avoca.

“The threat of any non-affiliation went off the table after the equalisation policy was replaced by the player points system,” Burkinshaw said. “We have confirmed affiliation with AFL NSW-ACT for 2018.”       

Last week on the Black Diamond website AFL NSW-ACT advertised for expressions of interest to fill three new positions pending the outcome of this upcoming amalgamation vote.  

The roles were listed as community football manager, football operations manager and football operations co-coordinator. 

“Please note that the appointment of the three new roles are subject to the proposed amalgamation of Black Diamond AFL and AFL Hunter Coast to be determined on 11 and 12 March,” the post said.

“At which point AFL NSW-ACT will either proceed to recruitment of the positions or retract the positions from the market.”

Meanwhile, the Maitland Saints have been dealt another blow ahead of their maiden season in the top flight Black Diamond AFL competition.

Last year’s promoted first-division champions are without injured captain Wade Beard (knee) after being involved in a motorbike accident. This follows the loss of grand final best and fairest Jim Taranto (shoulder surgery), Pat McMahon (quad) and retired duo Ben Stewart and Todd Sheldon.