Unanimous to join Riddell

Tigers' president Hayden Evans.

The committee of Kyneton Football Netball Club has unanimously decided to leave the Bendigo League and join the Riddell League.

“We’re hoping this move provides a sustainable future for our club, fair and equitable competition, and an enhanced experience for all our players – of whom a significant majority have indicated their preference to move to the RDFNL,” Tigers’ president Hayden Evans stated in what he described as an important message to Kyneton members, supporters and players.

Compelling reasons to quit the Bendigo League and move to Riddell were spelt out in detail in the president’s message issued last Thursday. Riddell League CEO Jordan Doyle has welcomed the Kyneton’s club’s decision.

Speaking prior to the Woodend-Hesket versus Wallan qualifying final on Saturday, Doyle said Kyneton was a geographic fit, and it made sense for that community.

Both Kyneton and the Riddell League hope the proposed move can be approved for season 2024.

Seemingly a catalyst that led to Kyneton’s decision is the sudden uncertain future of the Bendigo League, with recent suggestions Kyneton would end up in a second division in 2025.

Evans emphasised the decision to join Riddell was not made lightly by the committee members, who had the fiduciary responsibility of managing the club on behalf of the members and to make critical decisions in the best interest of the club and players.

“We believe that this move will provide us with an opportunity to be a sustainable club with strong and committed players who are desperate for a change sooner rather than later, who have made their views very clear through the survey.

“By making this decision now, it will remove any uncertainty and anxiousness and will create shared clarity of the long-term vision for our players as we embark on recruitment in the coming months and reduce the unnecessary drain on club finances for 2024,” Evans said.


There were at least seven key factors in the committee reaching the ‘Go to Riddell’ decision.

Voice of the players: Vital to seek the opinion of impacted footballers and netballers. There was an 84 per cent response rate to a survey, with 86 per cent of the players saying ‘Yes’ to the move to the RDFNL, and that they would continue to stay with the Kyneton club; seven per cent were ‘Maybe’ and another seven per cent responded ‘No’.

Ability to compete: Kyneton has not won a final in the BFNL since 1997 and it is a long time to be starved of success. Netball teams have struggled to remain competitive despite significant investments. Player points system meant to promote equalisation is clearly not working for the club; There is not ‘a level playing field’ between top and bottom teams with Kyneton Under 18s winning only one of every five games in the past 10 years.

Financial burden: There have been turbulent times in the club’s history, with a one-time debt of over $200,000 now rectified; sponsors are valued, but raffles generate income and their long-term approval is very uncertain. A significant portion of the club’s funds are allocate to the seniors team to unsustainability compete, denying the chance to invest and grow some of the other teams, including younger players and future senior players.

Player retention and numbers: Significant numbers of local players have left to compete in neighbouring clubs in other nearby leagues. The capped points system does not help Kyneton as the club does not have high local player numbers as compared to some of the top teams in Bendigo.

Community feedback and career pathways for players: Feedback was sought at an open forum on August 18; while everyone is entitled to have an opinion the committee need to make tough decisions and consider the interests of the majority rather than a few minorities; long-time supporters and life members strongly supported the switch to the RDFNL; while the salary cap is roughly $35,000 different, the fees in the RDFNL are almost half of what we pay to the BFNL. The RDFNL has provided a written commitment to ensure deserving players have more career pathway opportunities much broader than at present with Bendigo Pioneers.

RDFNL culture, governance and financial advantage: With Kyneton’s women and juniors already transitioned to the RDFNL support and governance practices in the RDFNL have been exceptional, extremely proactive and collaborative. The RDFNL provided a full complement of independent umpires. Many financial advantages include salary caps, lower club management fees, greater revenue raising opportunities at finals and seeing ‘all clubs get a fair chance’. Would align with Kyneton’s club culture and values.

One Club –’Together we are strong’: One of the most significant factors is the feeling of ‘one club’ With all teams in the same league home games can be together, wins are celebrated together, and players grow from juniors to seniors with their mates/opponents. Gets rid of the disjoined culture of ‘us v them’ within a single club. The club president said the support of members, supporters and players during the transition “will be invaluable as we navigate this change together”.