Illawarra Premier League giants Kemblawarra Fury will cease to exist next season after making the sensational decision to fold on Tuesday.
The merged club officially informed Football South Coast that it would not be applying for status in the region’s top tier for 2018.
Rumours have circulated around the competition throughout the campaign that this season would be the club’s last.
Fury president Paul Morgan confirmed to the Illawarra Mercury it would be the case.
“It hasn’t been an easy decision,” Morgan said.
“It came with much sadness after some changes and events occurred that were out of the club’s control. It’s absolutely no reflection on how the merged venture went. We would be moving forward still if we were still able to but there are some things at the moment we just can’t overcome.
“To all our fans, sponsors, players and staff, it’s a huge thank you for all the support.”
Despite another strong year on the pitch, the Fury’s decision comes after a testing season off it. The club was forced to find a new home at the beginning of the season after losing the tenancy at Albert Butler Memorial Park.
FSC allowed the Fury to ground share with Wollongong United at Macedonia Park throughout 2017.
However, it has proven to be a short-term solution. Without a permanent base, it will bring to an end a two-year association between Kemblawarra and the Fury.
The two clubs merged at the conclusion of 2015 and went on to win the League Championship title in their first season. Previously, Dapto-Dandaloo had operated as a merged entity, with an abundance of success in the top competition.
They claimed both the League Championship and grand final in their inaugural season before winning another decider in 2014 and league title the following year.
It is yet to be determined if the club’s will exist in any form in the coming seasons, but Morgan didn’t rule out a return sometime in the future.
“I would still love to see football back in the Dapto area,” he said.
“Dapto, Kemblawarra and Dandaloo all have proud histories so it would sad to see them gone for good.”
The Fury’s departure is undoubtedly a massive blow for the Illawarra Premier League and will likely see a change in the structure of the competition from next season.
With Fernhill likely to be approved for promotion, there is a high possibility it will not be a 12-team competition.
An 11 or 10 team competition appear to be the more likely, but Football South Coast Head of Men’s Football Claude Cuda said no decisions will be made until the league’s application process is finished.
“We will review the framework of the competition when we receive all of the nominations in the next month,” he said.
“There is a possibility that there will be 10 Premier League clubs, but that will only happen through natural attrition.
“There will always be 12 District League clubs.”
The applications process for all competition’s for next season will close in mid-October.
Meanwhile, Kemblawarra’s current first grade coach Luke McGuire is expected to pursue opportunities in Sydney.