FOOTBALL: Parkana is out but three clubs will return to a modified CQ Premier League competition this year.
While the final make-up of the two-tier competition will not be known until month's end, Football Central Queensland has, at this stage, received applications from seven clubs to play in Division 1 and eight clubs in Division 2.
Football CQ general manager Jim Douglas said the participation rule had been relaxed this year to allow clubs to nominate a team in either of the divisions rather than having to play in both.
Parkana will not field a team in either division, instead opting to compete in the Rockhampton community men's competition.
Berserker and the Emerald Eagles, which withdrew before the 2017 season kicked off, are both set to field teams in Division 2 this year.
Douglas said Gladstone-based team Central was set to return in the top division after a three-year hiatus.
"One of the big things clubs had been saying is that having to commit a dedicated squad to cover both divisions of Premier League had been restrictive," he said.
"The bigger clubs could manage but some of the smaller ones were struggling with numbers as the season went on due to injury, work commitments and natural attrition such as players leaving town.
"It's difficult to ascertain what impact this (change) will have on the quality of the competition.
"In some ways, if we are talking purely from a competition point of view, we would be better off trying to reduce the number of teams in Division 1 to ensure we have the very best.
"But we're a grass-roots football community and we should be about encouraging participation, not discouraging it."
Douglas said there weren't any easy answers to the long-term development of football in Central Queensland, due largely to limited opportunities to play representative football.
What he did not want was for clubs to be excluded entirely from Premier League because they weren't able to compete at the highest level.
"There was nothing to be gained from a club nominating a team in Division 1 only to get thrashed every week.
"If they could be competitive in the second division then there's a chance they can grow and can offer players the incentive of hopefully making it into the top division."
Douglas said extra criteria had been added into the application process, with a view to developing a women's Premier League competition.
"If a club fields only one team this year, in two years we would like to see them have two teams, and any club that has nominated a Premier League men's team should also be nominating a women's team in two years time," he said.
Clubs that have, at this stage, applied to play in the 2018 Premier League
Division 1: Bluebirds, Frenchville, Cap Coast, Clinton, Central, Nerimbera and Southside
Division 2: Bluebirds, Frenchville, Cap Coast, Clinton, Nerimbera, Southside, Emerald and Berserker