East Perth and Peel have cleared critical hurdles on the path to partnerships with West Coast and Fremantle after briefing members on the agreements reached with the AFL clubs.
East Perth's board faced 137 club members on Thursday night but the gathering played out as a reasonably tame one after reassurances by president Bronte Howson and new coach Brian Dawson.
Howson said concerns were expected but he believed the majority had left the meeting satisfied with the club's stance on the issue.
"The club was delighted with the turnout," he said.
"It shows the passion of the East Perth membership. It wasn't unexpected that there would be some disquiet about the partnership."
Long-standing members raised three key concerns: That the club might lose its identity, that the decision to form AFL partnerships would ruin the WAFL competition and that members hadn't been consulted.
Howson said the club's identity was protected by its constitution.
"The identity of the club is enshrined in the constitution so nobody can change the colours, the logo, the emblem or the club song or the governance structure without a special general meeting or an annual general meeting where 75 per cent of the members present vote to make a change. That isn't going to happen," he said.
"We needed to act relatively quickly and in the best interests of the club and that is what the board is elected by members to do. Had East Perth gone to a plebiscite of members it may well be that another WAFL club would have stepped in front of us.
"This partnership agreement, we believe on any examination of this decision, is in the best interests not only of East Perth, but in the interests of the WAFL and WA Football Commission."
Dawson told the meeting his coaching "ethics" would not be compromised and he had worked harmoniously with the Eagles when coach of Swan Districts.
On Monday, Peel briefed a smaller group of members and received "strong support" for the agreement to partner Fremantle.
President John Ditchburn said he had expected support for the club's decision.
"We are in a different boat to clubs that have been around for a hundred years," he said."This partnership Ã¢â‚¬Â¦ is in the best interests not only of East Perth, but in the interests of the WAFL and WA Football Commission.""East Perth president *Bronte Howson *
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