According to an article on the NT News website, the AFL is set to create a second tier league comprising teams from NSW, ACT, QLD and NT from 2012. This eastern seaboard league would be on the equivalent level of the VFL, SANFL and WAFL.
According to this article, the teams would include the reserve teams of the Sydney Swans, Brisbane Lions, Gold Coast and Greater Western Sydney, with representative teams from the ACT and NT, plus four of the premier clubs in the Queensland AFL (QAFL).
Currently, the Brisbane Lions reserves and NT Thunder are already in the QAFL, along with clubs such as Southport, Morningside, Mt Gravatt, with a total of ten teams.
This would probably be viewed as an expansion and vote of confidence in the QAFL, with the retention of the six current teams and expanding to include teams from NSW/ACT.
I’d imagine the remaining four QAFL teams would form another tier under this league (second Division?)
A couple of weeks ago, a report in the Melbourne AGE suggested the AFL was looking at several options from 2012, which included an expansion of the VFL, which currently hosts the Gold Coast, to include the NSW/ACT teams or a proposed eastern-northern seaboard league like this one.
Currently, the Sydney Swans reserves play in the AFL ACT competition and it was thought GWS would do the same for its reserves after serving an apprenticeship in the TAC Cup and VFL following in the Gold Coast’s footsteps.
It’s great news for the NT Thunder, who only recently joined the QAFL, as it propels them one step closer to the elite competition.
The ACT, it appears, will get a team in its own right in this second tier league. Currently a combined NSW/ACT representative team plays in the Under 16 and 18 junior championships.
Of course, the remnants of the QAFL and ACT leagues will need to be managed carefully. There is no detail at this stage as to what their fate holds.
Although a second division of the QAFL exists, maybe this could be expanded to include an AFL Cairns team as a representative North QLD along with the recently introduced team from PNG that currently plays in the AFL Cairns competition.
At the time of writing there was no official word from the AFL as to the veracity of this report. However, it appears this structure, at the very least ,is being seriously considered at AFL House.
One thing is for sure: the two new AFL teams of GC and GWS are potentially creating significant shifts in the whole structure of the game in NSW, ACT, QLD and NT.