Ground fixturing has been the “tipping point” to have forced Northern Rangers to abandon the NPL Tasmania competition next season.
The club had already been teetering over a number of issues, but acting president Marshall Pooley said the increase from 21 games to a 27-round roster left Rangers without their home venue for at least the first eight weeks.
The NTCA No.2 Ground – Rangers’ home ground – is unavailable during the cricket season until after April 1.
“That’s our agreement and it’s on us to try and work through it,” Pooley said.
“We have been able to deal with it up to now. We have historically played the first three or four games away from home with an early to mid-March start. But bringing it forward another month makes it a lot more difficult.”
The extra six rounds clash with home games for Cricket North tenant South Launceston starting in mid-February.
The new expanded season comes after Football Federation Tasmania’s decision to increase the number of clubs from eight to 10 sides – but that could be reduced to nine after Rangers’ withdrawal.
Pooley said Rangers would be forced to play up to 10 home games in a row to address the ground imbalance.
FFT had “penciled in” a few home games before April 1 at no listed venue, he said.
“That really took it from probably marginal to, if there’s no movement on that 27 games, there was no real away around it,” Pooley said.
Rangers also has to share the NTCA Ground facilities throughout the winter with NTFA club Old Scotch that would bring further conflicts.
“If you play more games on Sunday, it’s probably a big revenue drop,” Pooley said.
Rangers are not ruling out returning to the NPL in 2020, but such a decision would almost certainly spell the demise of NTCA No.2 Ground as their home ground.
The club will hold a strategic meeting in November and will consider spending the next 12 months eyeing off a future home venue.
“We’ll be looking for a venue that is available earlier in the season and maybe longer term that we can call a permanent home,” Pooley said.
“That’s probably a three to five-year type of timeframe.
“In terms of getting access early in the season to be able to play games somewhere, I’m not sure where that’ll be.”
Rangers were prepared for two additional clubs – championship winners Riverside Olympic and Glenorchy Knights – to join the NPL next year, including the initiative of promotion and relegation.
But Pooley said the club was surprised not to reduce the season that also includes two other cup competitions by three league games.
“I feel at this stage, it’s too much too soon,” Pooley said.
“Ideally if everyone were strong clubs, had lots of players, coaching depth, volunteering depth, strong financials as well, you’d want as many games as you could.
“But it’s quite a big jump from 21 to 27.”