Cricket in the Latrobe Valley is set for its biggest shake-up ever with the Central Gippsland Cricket Association and six breakaway clubs from the Traralgon and District Cricket Association planning to merge ahead of the 2018/19 season.
Representatives of TDCA clubs Glengarry, Traralgon West, Centrals, CATS, Churchill and MTY Raiders expressed their intent to pursue the formation of the Latrobe Valley Cricket Association in an open letter released on May 4.
The six clubs, who all voted in favour of a merger with the Central Gippsland Cricket Association at a TDCA special general meeting in March, met with the 12 CGCA clubs on April 30 to discuss the formation of a new league.
"It is no secret that six of the TDCA's member clubs voted in favour of an amalgamation with the TDCA," the letter reads.
"Our belief in the vision that was presented [by the review committee] did not die when the vote failed to obtain the required 75 per cent majority.
"We wholly believe that an amalgamated competition would provide the greatest platform to build and grow cricket throughout our area.
"The presented vision was holistic and inclusive of all clubs throughout the two associations ... we are not alone in our stance."
The letter discusses the clubs' reasons for seeking to break away and pursue the merger, and aims to dispel "rumours" about how the merger would function and the future of the proposed league.
CGCA president Wayne Mills said the merger between the two associations was "looking good".
"We had 40 people in the room at the meeting [on April 30] and we spoke about how we could get the LVCA up and running," Mr Mills said.
"We have now registered the constitution with Consumer Affairs because we thought if it goes ahead then we need to have things ready."
The 18 clubs will reconvene on Monday when a final decision will be reached.
While no motion will be raised on Monday, Mr Mills said the purpose of the meeting was to "get the ball rolling" in preparation for a special general meeting – and official vote – at a later date.
"At Monday's meeting we will simply be asking for yes or no votes from the 18 clubs and we will then form sub-committee on the night," he said.
"The sub-committee will then go through the constitution, bylaws and rules, but there will be no official notice put through on Monday night."
A TDCA spokesman labelled the proposed merger "dangerous" and said the review process surrounding its formation was "rushed".
"I don't think there has been enough thought into the consequences for those clubs and the remaining five clubs, and there needs to be a more thorough review," the spokesman said.
"At this stage the TDCA would prefer not to lose those clubs and we're really trying to fight to save the TDCA and ensure all the clubs stay.
"My concern is for the five TDCA clubs that might be left with a five-club association, which is not sustainable or viable."
As members of Gippsland Cricket Region 7, both associations fall under the governance of the Victorian Country Cricket League and Cricket Victoria.
In its open letter, the six TDCA clubs said it had engaged in communications with all three governing bodies and said "at no stage has any of these bodies indicated that they would stand in the way of the formation of a new association."
However, the TDCA spokesman said "a very clear process has been missing" with regard to the formation of the new league, citing section 28 (a) of the VCCL bylaws.
Under section 28 (a) "the transfer of an affiliated club ... shall be dealt with in accordance with the rules of those associations and the region ... disputes arising from such an application shall be dealt with by the region."
VCCL secretary Keith Thompson said the decision was out of the VCCL's hands and said it had "no reason to step in at this stage".
"Clubs only have to get permission from us if they're moving regions," Thompson said.
"We are aware of what's going on, at the moment the proposed entity doesn't exist and therefore has no affiliation with us.
"It really comes down to what the clubs want and what the members want."
Gippsland Cricket Region 7 president George Munro echoed Thompson's sentiments and said the region had no reason to intervene at this stage.
"From where we sit, nothing has happened officially," Mr Munro said.
"But from what I understand, everybody would like to see the five clubs from the TDCA to join the new entity and nobody has put a roadblock in front of them.
"That being the case, I would love to see Gippsland Cricket Region 7, the VCCL, the TDCA, CGCA and Cricket Victoria get in the same room.
"Until that happens I can't see an easy resolution."
A Cricket Victoria spokesman said the organisation was "aware of the discussions" surrounding the proposed LVCA.
"From a process perspective, the Victorian Country Cricket League and the Gippsland Region are working through this with their members," the spokesman said.
"We'll stay across the developments with the goal being to deliver the best outcome for cricket in the Gippsland region."