“It comes to a point where I’m starting to think I hope it doesn’t happen [resume],” he told The Age.
“I’ve spoken to a few other presidents in the competition and we’re not keen, if we can’t have a crowd we’ve got no way to raise any revenue.
“Realistically over the past four or five years, in my opinion, all country clubs have really struggled with the costs to run community football and netball, and you throw corona into that, it makes it nearly impossible.
“I think we’ve got a long way to go for any firm decision and acceptance by the other presidents for a competition to go ahead.”
AFL Barwon has already announced that match payments will be slashed by 50 per cent, with the league hoping to field 11 GFL home-and-away games in the second half of 2020.
But Hockley said his club had already budgeted expenses of $35,000 before a ball is bounced and he wouldn’t feel comfortable asking sponsors to tip in another $44,000 to cover a salary cap.
Pubs and hotels are the biggest supporters of local sporting clubs but they’ve been the hardest hit by government lockdowns.
The flow-on effect of cost cuts would then be passed to the players. Leopold boasts a number of ex-AFL players including former Cats Trent West and Tom Ruggles.
“Some of the players at our club, the majority would play for nothing if asked, but some of them just rely too heavily on their footy money to get by, to subsidise their salaries,” Hockley said.
“I know they wouldn’t play for nothing, I just know it.”
Former Essendon player Marc Bullen, coach at seven-time reigning Western Region Football League premier Deer Park, believes the trade industry is the biggest threat to player retention.
“If you have a look through at community footy, there’s probably up to 40 or 50 per cent of any list that are tradies – brickies, carpenters, apprentices – that potentially work on Saturdays,” he said.
“Some of those sparkies and plumbers are earning double time so they can earn $100 an hour, work ’til midday, so there’s $600-$700 and then go and potentially hurt yourself and not be able to work, that’s going to be the challenge for community football I think.”
Keilor coach Mick McGuane expects his player contracts to stand but be slashed in proportion to salary cap cuts, however Barwon Heads in the Bellarine Football League is preparing to tear up contracts and restructure their player payments.
AFL Barwon has announced a revised BFL cap, with the per-game average to drop from $6112 to $3056, and Seagulls football manager Brendan Curry said his players would be paid $50 a game with performance incentives.
I know they wouldn’t play for nothing, I just know it.
“Instead of redoing every single contract, we’ve come up with an incentive-based scheme for the balance of the season,” he said.
“We’re going to pay 22 players $50 a game, that’s $1100, and then split up $2200 for a win among the best 12 players, and in a loss I’d split up $1100 for the best seven players.
“If we went seven wins and two losses, that adds up to $27,500 [the revised salary cap for the season].”
Neither Curry nor McGuane, however, believe they’ll have issues with player retention this season.
“It’s all green light here, everyone I’ve spoken to on my list can’t wait for the season to get started,” the Collingwood great said.
“They’re probably just desperate for a start date. Now that there’s some positivity around the flattening of the curve, we seem to think there might be some real chance of getting a nine-game season plus finals underway in the back end of June, start of July.
“In terms of the mental health stimulation local sport gives people, not only the players but their wives and kids and volunteers … they need an outlet from a social perspective. [Footy] brings people together, it brings communities together.”
Damien Ractliffe is the Chief Racing Reporter for The Age.