In a letter sent to club presidents of NPL1 men’s sides on Monday evening seen by FTBL, the provision of a $160,000 COVID-19 relief pool in the form of rebates for clubs choosing to recommence the 2020 season is proposed by the Victorian federation; set to be shared equally amongst clubs that return to the field in 2020.

The fund would be available over a four-month period – which the letter expects to be July, August, September, and October – and paid in monthly instalments to each participating club. Included in the letter is the proviso that at least eight clubs are required to take part in the season  

In practice, the proposal means that if all 14 clubs return to the field in 2020 they will receive $2857 a month in rebates, while should 10 teams return they will each share in $4000 a month and an eight-team competition would result in $5000 a month.

According to the letter, however, should the Victorian State Government lift the restrictions on fans accessing venues on game day to just 300 people including players and officials the pool will cease operation and no club with outstanding debts to the federation will not be eligible.

Should the limit on crowds be raised in the middle of the month, FV would not recoup the payment already made for that month.

At present, only South Melbourne, Green Gully and Hume City have indicated a willingness to recommence the 2020 competition, while the other 11 clubs believe that resumption is “not financially viable or otherwise feasible”.

Clubs have been given until June 12 to inform FV of their intentions regarding the 2020 season, with a tentative season resumption date of July 10 earmarked by the federation.

Should 13-14 teams return to the field, the letter proposes that the remaining 21 games of the 26 game season are staged, with five mid-week games conducted to help see the season finished by November 1.

It is proposed that the transfer period remains at round 13 of the season or be at the point where all clubs have played each other once. 

The season will be reduced to 22 games should 12 or 11 teams be willing to play, 18 games should ten or nine play and be just a 14 game season should only eight sides return. Any numbers below that would likely see the willing clubs moved into a hybrid competition with NPL2 sides. 

Last week, FV outlined principles surrounding a return to play that included no relegation for the 2020 season but the retention of promotion from the lower tiers, meaning that there will be a 16-team NPL1 in 2021.

The principles also declared that clubs not wishing to compete as a result of COVID-19 related maladies could sit the season out and retain their place in the Victorian top-tier dependant upon FV receiving their fees for 2020 by October 31. 

Previously unknown, Monday evening’s letter indicates that the 16-team NPL1 competition in 2021 will then see four teams relegated to the NPL2 at its conclusion – although the possibility that the creation of a National Second Division that includes teams from the Victorian top-flight may render relegation moot is noted.

In consultation with its referee's panel, a 25% reduction in refereeing costs worn by the clubs has also been agreed upon, although this too is reliant upon the government not raising the limits on attendees – including players and officials – to over 300 people.