OPINION: Why couldn't Gympie prove professionalism here?
OPINION: It's fantastic to read the QFA competitions will finally have 10 teams across each of its three divisions but AFL Queensland did not have to gut AFL Wide Bay to do it.
AFLQ confirmed yesterday the Cats would move to the QFA Division 3 competition in 2019, another exciting chapter for Gympie's Aussie rules community as it bounces to its third different competition in four years.
While it brings balance to the QFA's top three divisions, it undermines an AFL Wide Bay that has struggled for consistency due to the decisions of those up above.
Months after the end of arguably the most competitive season in at least a decade, the AFL Wide Bay is back to a five-team format where clubs will play each other four times before finals, with a weekly bye.
Gympie did win the flag, but the club members were also responsible for some of the most unsavoury moments on and off the field.
Several players were suspended for fighting and an alleged head-butt, while the club's captain missed the grand final because he threatened an umpire after the team won the preliminary final.
In a statement late yesterday, AFL Queensland said bringing Gympie's move forward was an opportunity to "provide greater support, education and monitoring of clearly defined behavioural standards and expectations".
"Gympie AFC has also demonstrated their desire to ensure improved culture and behaviour by remedying some of the existing factors and putting in place structures, policies and programs that will place the club in good stead going forward," the statement read.
AFL Queensland acknowledged the club had "difficulties in gaining player support to re-enter the Wide Bay competition" due to 55 per cent of players living to the south of the Gold City and a belief that delaying the licence until 2020 would leave the side unable to field the required teams.
Gympie president Jason Bromilow said the Cats had to move if it wanted to be successful. He also said that given the Brisbane comp is "serious, tougher, faster and harder", they have to show they are a professional club.
Rather than prove they are professional club in a final, incident-free season in AFL Wide Bay, the Cats were rewarded with entry to a higher-level competition.
Good luck to the Cats, we wish them the best, but their move - and AFLQ's excitement about balanced QFA competitions - does nothing to help grow, support and expand the five-team AFL Wide Bay.