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NEAFL to reshape Aussie Rules second tier landscape

General NewsThe AFL today announced that a North East Australian Football League (NEAFL) will be introduced in 2011, bringing together teams from NSW, Queensland, ACT and NT into one competition. The new league will build upon the successful existing competitions of AFL Canberra and AFL Queensland.

In 2011, Team GWS will join current AFL Canberra teams to form the Eastern Conference, comprising seven clubs. The Gold Coast Suns’ feeder team will combine with existing QAFL teams to form the Northern Conference, comprising 10 teams, including NT Thunder.

AFL General Manager National and International Development, David Matthews, said the creation of the NEAFL followed a review of second tier competitions across Australia over the past two years.

He said the NEAFL will engage all 17 clubs in a new, additional competition which will significantly enhance the pathway for players and the opportunities for clubs in the ACT, NSW, QLD and NT.

"This is a unique and exciting competition and further enhances the AFL's presence in communities in the ACT, NSW, Queensland and NT. We think it sends an important message to players, coaches, umpires, volunteers and fans that there are vibrant and developing leagues and clubs in these markets," Mr Matthews said.

"As the keeper of the code, the AFL is committed to developing the game at all levels and we have worked closely with existing leagues and clubs to develop a practical model to grow the game.

"Throughout the extensive consultation process it was at the forefront of our minds that the AFL Clubs based in NSW and Queensland should play in their own backyards to stimulate further development in the regions"

The key features of the new competition are as follows:
· The NEAFL will consist of two conferences - the Northern Conference (Qld & NT teams) and the Eastern Conference (NSW & ACT teams)

· For the majority of the year teams will play other teams within their respective conferences

· A key point of difference between other State League is that the NEAFL will provide opportunities for "cross conference" games for all clubs to play games interstate or host interstate clubs

· NT Thunder in the Northern Conference will mean that Qld teams will continue to travel to the Territory for games

· Local clubs will continue to play for the awards and premiership success within their own conference but will have the additional opportunity to win the NEAFL Grand Final between the respective winner of each conference

· There will be increased AFL club content in each market, AFL Clubs will play each other 7 times during the season (5 times in their own state & 2 games interstate)

The chief executive of AFL Queensland, Richard Griffiths, said the NEAFL would further enhance the quality and profile of second tier football in the northern states and Northern Territory. “Our state league clubs and players are looking forward to competing in this new exciting competition which is an extension of the talent pathway and will provide another avenue for players to aspire to the AFL competition,” he said.

Gold Coast Suns Football Manager, Marcus Ashcroft, also welcomed the new league format which he said would give local clubs an opportunity to participate at a higher level of the game. “Our teams will be exposed to a wider audience and the local fans will get a good chance to see developing players and some good quality football in the community,” he said

The chief executive of Team GWS, Dale Holmes, said games in both Greater Western Sydney and Canberra would help the club connect with these communities and build its brand in the region.

“We are delighted to have the opportunity to be involved with the NEAFL. This new competition will go a long way to promoting our game in these expanding markets. It really is a great result for football.

Sydney Swans General Manager of Football, Dean Moore, said the introduction of the NEAFL would not only be good for the Swans but for the game in the wider region.

“We’ve had a successful association with Canberra for a number of years now. This development enables us to maintain those well established links but also allows us to now compete against other AFL reserve grade teams,” he said.

“Importantly we can supplement our side with players from our newly formed QBE Sydney Swans Academy which will provide a wonderful opportunity for those boys to play football at a high standards and further develop their talents.”

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NEAFL to reshape Aussie Rules second tier landscape | 7 comments | Create New Account
The following comments are owned by whomever posted them. This site is not responsible for what they say.
NEAFL to reshape Aussie Rules second tier landscape
Authored by: Brett Northey on Thursday, November 11 2010 @ 08:19 pm ACDT

Still trying to work out whether I like this.

When I first heard about the initial concept ages ago I didn't like it, because one version was to take just a few teams from those existing comps and then add in the AFL "reserves" sides from the QLD and NSW clubs. The problem with that being that it would weaken the existing leagues and drop their standard even further and reduce their relevance/standing. So creating a small second tier and killing the existing second tiers.

But this plan seems to be a hybrid that harnesses those existing second tiers and increases their depth and possibly profile with the cross-over matches. I'm a bit more encouraged that they've taken the earlier misgivings into account. So maybe it'll be a good thing. We'll see soon. One worry to me that remains is the cost. Flying around for these cross-over matches in a big country, plus accommodation, must be a significant extra impost that presumably the leagues or the AFL has to fund.

Brett Northey - Co-founder and Chief Editor of WFN

NEAFL to reshape Aussie Rules second tier landscape
Authored by: Mister Football on Thursday, November 11 2010 @ 09:31 pm ACDT


If you go to the AFL site, there's a comprehensive description of how it's structured, and it is being designed to decrease travel costs.

There are two conferences:
Northern conference comprises 10 teams: Lions reserves, Suns reserves, NT and 7 QAFL teams.
Eastern conference comprises 7 teams: all five ACTAFL teams, GWS reserves and Swans reserves.

16 rounds include respective conferences playing each other. A further four rounds are dedicated to the two AFL reserves teams from each conference playing each other twice, i.e. cross conference. It's only during these four rounds that cross-conference games will occur between the other teams, so as you can seem they are focusing on minimising travel.

Very innovative approach all round.

Mister Football

NEAFL to reshape Aussie Rules second tier landscape
Authored by: Brett Northey on Thursday, November 11 2010 @ 10:11 pm ACDT

Yeah I agree they've tried to reduce it, as you say, quite innovative. Still not cheap I bet, but a lot of money is going in to those areas already so I would guess it would come out of that. Yep the structure is laid out here:


Brett Northey - Co-founder and Chief Editor of WFN

NEAFL to reshape Aussie Rules second tier landscape
Authored by: Michael Christiansen on Friday, November 12 2010 @ 07:47 am ACDT

I guess the most obvious omission is not one team from the Sydney comps. Not even a Pennant Hills.
Does this mean the best young players from Sydney leagues will be 'drafted' into Canberra teams? That's where you'd want them 'developing'.
I can only presume that 10 and 7 in the conferences, that, there might be a desire in future to even it out at 10 apiece, so, including a couple of the stand out Sydney teams,
then, we'll have a bit of a template for a functioning AFL 2 conference 20 team league,
in readiness for Tas19 and either WA20, NQ/PNG20 or ACT/NZ20 joining the league????

NEAFL to reshape Aussie Rules second tier landscape
Authored by: Michael Christiansen on Friday, November 12 2010 @ 07:55 am ACDT

The other aspect to this - in the Herald Sun, I found the NEAFL mentioned about 3/4s into an article about "Jack (Anthony) going to the Dockers".

Does not the Herald-Sun regard the NEAFL as a significant story?? At least big enough for it's own headline??

NEAFL to reshape Aussie Rules second tier landscape
Authored by: Brett Northey on Friday, November 12 2010 @ 06:13 pm ACDT

Yeah the lack of teams from the Sydney league is a bit of an indictment of that comp which you would hope has been improving over the last 10 years. I guess something had to be done so yeah hopefully they can step up 2 or 3 sides to join the NEAFL in a few years.

I agree, down the track I'd expect FNQ (Cairns and Townsville) to join. And a dream for us certainly has to be a PNG side joining one day, and why not NZ. Tassie recently switched to a statewide league again. I'd love to see Tassie join the AFL proper by 2020 and NZ and PNG after that. PNG would need a lot of economic progress before then but it's a nice goal.

Brett Northey - Co-founder and Chief Editor of WFN

NEAFL to reshape Aussie Rules second tier landscape
Authored by: Mister Football on Friday, November 12 2010 @ 08:39 am ACDT


I've read elsewhere that the Sydney teams aren't quite ready for this level of competition (that's why the Swans reserves have been playing in the ACT comp) - ACTAFL is a surprisingly strong comp, despite having only five Canberra based teams, actually, only four if you exclude Queanbeyan.

But yes, the idea will be to add Sydney teams into the future.

The AFL has basically killed two birds with the one stone here, giving the four Northern AFL teams a good comp for there reserves, and effectively creating a second tier comp that might one day be the equal of SANFL, WAFL, VFL, etc.

It also opens the door for one day allowing Cairns and PNG to enter the comp, and even teams from Wagga and Albury.

The other thing to remember is that a few of the Canberra and QAFL teams are quite cashed up, and they will be able to attract good players to play in a comp that will have a very high standing. There are also broadcasting opportunities here, especially with local ABC and secondary TV stations.

The AFL sees this as a big step, make no mistake, and it all slots in nicely with the expansion to 18 teams, and also the recent announcement that the ACT Govt will pay good money to have 3 home GWS games per annum for the next 10 years.

Mister Football