The Board of the Northern Football Netball League has determined the structure of the Division 2 and Division 3 men’s football competitions for the 2018 and 2019 seasons.

The Board’s decision follows a request from the Lalor Football Club to be relegated to Division 3 and Epping Football Club’s subsequent request to be promoted to Division 2.

On Tuesday night the NFNL Board accepted Lalor’s request to compete in Division 3 this season.

In order to compete in 2018, Lalor requires a minimum of 45 registered players by midday on Friday March 9. If Lalor is unable to reach the minimum player requirement, the club will not compete in the NFNL’s senior and reserves competitions this year.

To ensure Division 2 remained an eight-team competition in 2018, all Division 3 clubs were offered the opportunity to take Lalor’s place in Division 2. Epping was the only club to submit an expression of interest to be promoted and the NFNL Board endorsed this request.

Epping will move into Lalor’s place on the Division 2 fixture and, conversely, Lalor – should it meet its minimum player registration requirement – will take Epping’s place on the Division 3 fixture.

If Lalor is unable to field a side in 2018, Epping will remain in Division 2 and Division 3 will continue as an eight-team competition in 2018.

NFNL chief executive Peter McDougall said the Board had considered many options before coming to its determination.

“The decision to allow Lalor to move to Division 3 is based on the long-term viability of the club,” McDougall said.

“The Board deemed it paramount that Lalor be given the best chance to be able to field a side during this period of difficulty and moving to Division 3 provides that opportunity.

“We are also greatly appreciative of Epping’s expression of interest to move up to Division 2 at such short notice prior to the start of the season and support the club’s ambition to play at a higher level.”

The NFNL Board’s vision is for Division 2 to eventually become a 10-team competition.

The Board has determined that the club that finishes bottom on the Division 2 ladder in 2018 will be exempt from relegation, while the Division 3 premier will be promoted.

This decision will ensure that Division 2 will become a nine-team competition in 2019, while eight teams will compete in Division 3.

The structure of the NFNL’s Division 2 and Division 3 competitions for 2020 will be reviewed at the end of the 2018 season.