THE Western Premier League 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 decision.
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.
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 and I think clubs want to compete in a strong competition.
“It is disappointing. As of Sunday when we had our meeting, we had nominations from four clubs, but (Dubbo FC) must of 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 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 yet,” he said.
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.