Following the emergence of troubling footage depicting a muzzled bear presenting the match ball to a referee before a Russian soccer match, footy clubs in the Diamond Valley are reportedly scrambling to copy the controversial idea by getting real life mascots onto the ground before games in an attempt to draw more spectators. While the use of circus bear “Tim” at the Russian match has been widely condemned, close sources indicate that the Watsonia Wombats are considering using a trained wombat to waddle onto the ground and present umpires with the match ball at each home game this year.

The anonymous source told The Watsonia Bugle, “While the club obviously disagrees with the mistreatment of Tim the bear, the footage gave us an idea. We wouldn’t have to chain the wombat, we’d just have to train him to get from in front of the clubrooms to the middle of the ground. At this stage we think we’ll rig up some kind of backpack that we can attach the ball to, and then the umpire can just pluck it off his back.”

How this move would actually increase attendance numbers at home games this season remains unclear, but it has opened the challenge to other clubs who have slightly more fierce mascots than the native wombat. This includes the Bundoora Bulls, South Morang Lions, Old Eltham Turtles, Greensborough Greenies and Banyule, ahem, Bears. No representatives from those clubs were available for comment when contacted by The Watsonia Bugle earlier today.