George Cross united against season cancellation

Caroline Springs George Cross FC president Mark Sultana. (Supplied)

Michaela Meade

Caroline Springs George Cross Football Club, along with over 40 other clubs across Victoria, are fighting Football Victoria’s decision to cancel all 2021 competitions, without promotion or relegation.

The 2020 FV competitions were cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. With Victoria’s recent struggle against outbreaks and a sixth lockdown, FV handed down the decision to cancel the remainder of 2021 competitions on Friday, September 3.

FV also announced the decision to not promote or relegate any clubs.

George Cross president Mark Sultana has joined forces with over 40 other club representatives from across Victoria and FV competitions – known as United Football – to dispute FV’s decision.

Sultana said the united group will not let the issue slide easily.

“We’re looking at all options, including legal ones,” he said.

“This is not a situation where we can just walk away.

“If there isn’t a clear resolution, we are looking at legal action.

“It’s not just about the clubs, it’s about the code [of the sport].”

United Football has presented FV with three options to consider; promotion and recognition of champions based on current standings or points per matches played method, with or without relegation; restructure of the leagues to achieve the desired effect of promotion/relegation, completed in line with the 2021 Football Australia Performance Gap Report; or align with FV principles and fixture the outstanding games between teams who have not played against each other to complete the season and award promotion and relegation.

Sultana said the latest communication from FV – prior to the September 3 decision – was that promotion and relegation were “still on the table”, on Monday, August 9.

“I find it difficult to understand why [FV’s decision about the season outcomes] changed in such a short amount of time,” Sultana said.

“We have to show that we don’t take this lying down.

“This needs to be pushed, it shouldn’t be taken lightly.

“This is for the betterment of the code of the game, and the betterment of the clubs and competitions within it.”

Sultana said FV should have had contingencies in the event of more COVID-19 lockdowns, following the 2020 season’s shutdown and subsequent cancellation.

“To not have a plan moving forward, to me is a dereliction of duty,” he said.

“After last year, there would be a return to play plan in place, I would’ve thought.

“They didn’t have a COVID clause… which would make sure they didn’t send the message of failure.”

Sultana said it was lax of FV to cancel the remaining competition without giving clubs the chance to have their voices heard.

“Football Victoria had the opportunity to complete rounds 10 and 11, that would have made it so that all the teams had played each other once,” Sultana said.

“They could have used that as the chance to figure out promotion and relegation.”

Sultana said FV had an opportunity to lift player and staff spirits during what has been a months-long lockdown.

“It wasn’t a great message to send,” he said.

“Rather than give everybody a setback, give them something positive.

“People want rewards, especially during these times.”