THE Central Rivers Board will reduce the salary cap of all Central Murray and Golden Rivers football league clubs by 50 per cent.
The decision comes after the AFL recommended a two-stage salary cap reduction across all community football leagues amid season delays due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Stage one, which has already been implemented, is a 50 per cent reduction on current Allowable Player Payment (APP) caps for the 2020 season.
Stage two is a further pro rata reduction based on the number of matches re-fixtured.
AFL Central Murray and AFL Victoria worked closely to assess all options and present them to the Central Rivers Board.
However, AFL Central Murray area manager Sheridan Harrop said all parties agreed the AFL's recommendation was the best course of action.
"One of the biggest expenses at a club is player payments and clubs are already financially strained by COVID-19 effects," Harrop said.
"Clubs have taken a massive hit in revenue in terms of sponsorship, fundraising, match-day takings and membership revenue.
"They have to renegotiate their contracts with players, which is going to be tough as they may even have to choose who they re-contract.
"Some players may not accept and would prefer to play somewhere else — it all has to play out still."
Players who do not wish to renegotiate can maintain their original contracts, but clubs can choose not to play them in matches to remain under the revised salary cap.
On March 19, the Central Rivers Board announced the initial start to the season on April 18 was postponed until June 6.
All club training, practice matches and club events were also halted and set to recommence on May 31.
However, the Victorian government is set to reassess their COVID-19 restrictions when the state of emergency expires on May 11.
Harrop said when that date arrives, all leagues across Victoria will have a better idea as to when, and if, they can work towards the football season recommencing.
"We're working with AFL Victoria to review what community football would look like if it did return, but we need to know what guidelines the government will still have in place," Harrop said.
"The aim is to provide leagues with the appropriate resources to make an informed decision."
Harrop did admit that even if restrictions were lifted and clubs were able to return to the field, it may not necessarily mean a 2020 season will exist.
"The conversations I've been having with clubs is if there is no gatherings at their games, it would be more detrimental to them if they went ahead with the competition," she said.
"That's what we're looking at with the leagues though — whether it is viable for clubs to return, which we'll work through with the clubs as soon as we can after the May 11 announcement."