IN ACTION FOR 2017? Diggers player Dale Tucker lines up a kick during a Gympie Diggers match in 2016..
IN ACTION FOR 2017? Diggers player Dale Tucker lines up a kick during a Gympie Diggers match in 2016.. JAMES LOOSE

EXCLUSIVE: Gympie's season hangs by a thread

EXCLUSIVE: A mass exodus of Gympie Diggers players has left the club on its knees just weeks out from its 2017 McDonald's Premier Men season opener.

The club will struggle to field a full-strength A-grade side this season, with a meeting between new coach Danny Baker and the remaining players set to take place at training tonight.

Both Sunshine Coast and Gympie Diggers have confirmed at least five players have taken up spots at southern clubs, with some still attempting to snare players as late as yesterday afternoon.

It has left Gympie's senior squads in dire straits. Diggers president Terry Ferguson said he intended to field an A-grade side this season, but he could make no guarantees.

SCF president Chris Dunk said his association would do its utmost to support the club. "We will know more (tonight). They're short of numbers and their biggest problem has been other clubs getting into the ears of the better players and enticing them down here," he said.

Ferguson is upset that teams like Maroochydore, which clinched the minor premiership in 2016, have depleted Gympie's stocks.

"The Sunshine Coast clubs are in vulture mode. For the growth of the game they should leave(players) in Gympie."

Ferguson said Dunk had been supportive.

"Sunshine Coast really want us in their competition ... I personally believe (Football) Gympie will be incorporated under the Coast banner in the next 12-18 months."

FG is currently resisting a push from Football Queensland to merge and govern it and the Maryborough, Bundaberg and Hervey Bay associations.