THE Regional Premier League has slipped its head out of the hangman’s noose with news late yesterday three of the competition’s board of directors had resigned and the season had been saved.
After 10 days of turmoil that threatened to rip the inaugural competition apart, officials from both sides of the border brokered a deal that would save the competition.
“As of now a compromise has been reached and Frank Trimboli president of the RPL has received and accepted the resignations of the other three board members,” Hanwood FC vice-president Chint Quarisa said.
“Going forward towards the finals series he is going to appoint a representative from the Griffith clubs, and that will likely be myself after he (Trimboli) offered the position to me this morning (Thursday).”
A Shepparton representative will also be added to the three-man board for the rest of this year, with a total restructuring of the RPL tipped to happen in the off-season.
“As far as the Griffith teams are concerned the integrity has been returned to the RPL with Mr Trimboli accepting these resignations by the other board members,” Quarisa said.
“It’s unfortunate that it’s taken a major stance by the Griffith clubs to get rid of the entrenched corruption that’s been down there in the running of this competition.”
The crux of the debate centred around two Victorian clubs signing players outside of the agreed June 30 player recruitment deadline, which was not written into the competition’s by-laws.
This allowed Victorian clubs to take advantage of the Football Federation of Victoria’s (FFV) later deadlines, as the Goulburn North Eastern Football League is governed by the FFV.
To avoid withdrawing from the competition, Griffith clubs demanded points earned with illegal players be stripped and for those signed after June 30 to be stood down.
Also requested as compensation was a home final for the fifth placed club, likely to be either Yoogali SC or Hanwood FC, with The Area News learning the RPL board had promised that change on Monday night this week.
But that decision was quickly reversed when the competition addressed a crisis meeting in Cobram only 24 hours later, with the newly-announced board resignations not changing the venue of the elimination final.
Shepparton United vice-president Jimmy Kalafatis said clubs on both sides of the border wanted to see a resolution to the situation.
“To be honest, all clubs had issues and NSW had every right to express their concern with a few things and they made some very good points,” Kalafatis said.
“So we had to work through a couple of sticking points; not just for this season but next as well.”
When asked if his club will stand down players signed outside of June 30 against Griffith clubs he said, “That is an issue we will discuss with the relevant clubs at the time, but I think all of those have been addressed”.
Yoogali SC and Hanwood SC have agreed to rejoin the competition this weekend. At the time of print Yoogali FC were consulting with their committee over the latest development.
However, Wests SC told The Area News yesterday they would not be taking further part in the competition.
“We regrettably won’t be fulfilling the rest of the season in the RPL, so we are withdrawing from 2012 immediately,” Wests SC president Anthony Vecchio said.
“We’re bitterly disappointed that certain clubs have more to say than the (RPL) board does. What has happened over the past couple of weeks has put a black mark on soccer.”
Vecchio could not comment on whether the Magpies will seek to re-enter the competition next year. Postponed round 17 games will be played mid-next week before the finals begin as per schedule.