THE WESTERN Premier League (WPL) competition has been canned for season 2013 after three-time defending champions Dubbo FC withdrew its nomination for the upcoming winter on Tuesday night.
The Bulls' absence from this year's premiership means WPL president Jim Auld had no option but to abandon the 2013 title race, with just three teams, Orange Waratahs, Orana Spurs and Lithgow Workies, an "insufficient" number.
As of early yesterday, Auld still had no formal reason why Dubbo FC pulled the pin on its bid for another premiership, but it's believed travel and the recent restructure of the WPL to solely a first grade and second grade tournament is behind the club's withdrawal.
Auld was both disappointed and frustrated at the competition's demise, with Westside Panthers previously signalling its struggles in January and Barnstoneworth also unable to fill a first grade quota for the season ahead.
But he stressed the WPL competition would be back in 2014.
“We’re confident we’ll be back,” Auld said.
“It’s up to individual clubs though. The WPL is a strong comp with Westside back, Spurs, Dubbo FC and the like. I would like to think we’ll be back.
“It is disappointing. As of Sunday when we had our meeting, we had nominations from four clubs, but [Dubbo FC] must’ve gone back and had a team meeting or something.
“It left us with three teams. That’s completely unviable for 2013.”
Westside notified Auld of its player-number predicament at the beginning of the calendar year.
“[Westside] said straight up from the start they wouldn’t be able to field teams. [Dubbo FC] haven’t given me anything in writing,” he said.
The region’s premier football competition, the WPL, has been in decline for the best part of five years.
Canobolas Rangers withdrew in 2011, leaving first grade with a five team competition.
Orange-based club Barnstoneworth entered the fray last winter and, after running just a second grade side in 2012, had signalled its intention to field both senior grades in 2013.
That didn’t eventuate.
Auld believes the WPL concept is still valid, adding playing it on Sundays still suited most clubs.
“Especially in Orange and Bathurst where their local comps are run on Saturday. We don’t want to compete with them,” he said.
“I would assume [Sundays] suit but it’s up to the individual committee.”