GROUP 19 has taken the first step towards a possible merger with Group 4 following a paper being presented and voted on at a meeting on Wednesday night.
While nothing is official, the two groups have agreed to meet for further discussions.
Group 19 president Mick Lewis tabled the paper in the hope that both groups can be strengthened and smaller clubs given a life line.
“At the moment it is only a loose discussion about what might happen with boundaries,” Lewis said.
“We have six big clubs and so do Group 4”.
“It is no surprise the clubs battling the hardest are the smaller towns.”
The idea at the moment would be for the two Moree sides, Armidale, Inverell, Glen Innes and Goondiwindi joining the six Group 4 sides, and Group 19 adopt a second division similar to Group 4 for the smaller clubs.
Lewis believes a merger may breath fresh life into the dormant clubs like Bingara, Warialda, Guyra and a couple more.
“It is important to give those clubs a way back to life,” Lewis said.
“We have put it on the table and voted to further investigate it.”
“We have contacted Group 4 and they have agreed to discuss it.”
Group 4 president Barry Pratten has agreed to further discussions, but stressed that nothing was official.
“The idea has been around for 15 years and been mooted several times,” Pratten said.
“We tabled it 10 years ago but it got knocked on the head.”
“It might have more legs now that Group 19 is more sparse.”
“We have not discussed it as a group yet.”
The date of the meeting is yet to be announced.
o Group 19 decided not to move the date of the grand final back a week after the competition went behind because of a referees’ strike in round 10. Instead of playing the major and minor semi on separate weekends they will both be played on the same weekend, with the final and grand final to remain the same.
The missed games will now be played on the weekend of August 31.
The minor semi will be played on Saturday September 6 with the major semi the following day.
The grand final will remain September 21.
The presentation night has been pushed back a week and will now be held on Friday September 12 at