Where should the AFL expand to next?

aligee Roar Rookie

By aligee, aligee is a Roar Rookie

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    At what point will the AFL expand again? Will the AFL ever reward Tasmania with a team?

    Will Perth get a third team, will the AFL roll the dice again and punt a third team into Sydney and what about Canberra?, will the Northern Territory or North Queensland ever see an AFL team? Will New Zealand ever have a realistic chance of joining the competition?

    The previous two AFL expansion teams, Gold Coast and Greater Western Sydney, are both in areas not considered football heartland, although the Gold Coast would be considered a Wagga Wagga or Canberra-type area where footy has a very good presence but is not the market leader.

    My preference would be for a third Perth team and a third Sydney team.

    My reasoning for a third Perth team is to utilise the new stadium, reduce the highest membership fees in Australia, increase footy tourism and all that flows from it for the state and deflate or decrease current membership waiting lists.

    By way of comparison Melbourne has 85 seat available each week per 100 residents. Adelaide has 55 seats per 100 residents. Perth has just 35, and that includes the capacity of the new stadium, which is yet to see a game.

    That figure alone sees Perth as the second biggest AFL market in Australia, yet it is severely underserviced, and even with a third team Perth would still be behind Adelaide according to the seats-available metric.

    Moreover, the new stadium will not make much of a dent in the West Coast Eagles and Fremantle waiting lists. Over the course of a year only 120,000 to 150,000 people attend footy in Perth due to member preference selling out games, which is in sharp contrast with Melbourne, where $20 walk-up ticketing is the norm.

    If adult attendance is founded on childhood and teenage attendance, the future member bases of these clubs may hang in the balance, with the Eagles in particular seeing a distinct lack of kids holding onto club membership.

    (Michael Willson/AFL Media/Getty Images)

    My second preference is a third team in Sydney. Yes I can hear the groans and feel the eye rolls from my chair, but I am obviously not talking about next year; rather in five to ten years.

    Sydney is the biggest market in Australia by a fair way, particularly if we include Newcastle, the Central Coast and Wollongong. It has a huge population – around 40 per cent of Australia’s population.

    In ten years GWS should be fully established. Grassroots football in Sydney and surrounds has really grown significantly recently, and girls and women’s football has given it another bounce.

    AFL in Sydney really is on the up – it has growing competitions across both GWS and Swans zones as well as private schools – and you need to strike while the iron is hot. What’s more, it’s pretty clear that Australian Rules football has a stronger base in New South Wales than at any time in its 160-year history.

    There has been some talk of a new sporting complex out at Badgerys Creek. If the AFL was serious, it could turn it into a third AFL ground in Sydney. Unlike Melbourne, in Sydney you need to build a ground near the fans, so a third team in Sydney must play in the south-west to service that region of Sydney.

    Another option is perhaps a revamped number one sports ground in Newcastle. However, my money is on the south-west of Sydney. That area is a hell of a long way from Spotless Stadium, which really services inner western Sydney and its fans. Any new stadium in Sydney will of course need to have Spotless-level capacity – there is no need for anything over 20,000 initially.

    The south-west of Sydney is the fastest growing part of Sydney, and within the next ten years it will home an extra 350,000 people. GWS doesn’t service that area. The AFL can’t afford to miss the opportunity.

    (Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

    Of course Tasmania deserves a team, but logically the north-south divide makes Tassie a very difficult proposition, with probably two stadiums needed.

    Canberra probably deserves a team as well and could probably get better crowds than GWS, but it lacks in the sponsorship department. Canberra is a government town with little private industry. The game would have to survive on poker machine money, but is that viable in the long run?

    Northern Territory just doesn’t have the population base, North Queensland is a low-density population and Cairns, although it has a strong footy presence like Canberra, Wagga Wagga and the Gold Coast, is not big enough on its own to fund an AFL team and does not have a projected population big enough to make one viable in the long term.

    New Zealand is pie in the sky, but there is talk about Western Springs in Auckland as a potential ground in conjunction with cricket. Liz Dawson, who is on the St Kilda board, is also on the Cricket New Zealand board.

    So, Roarers, where would you like to see the 19th and 20th AFL clubs?

    Have Your Say



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    The Crowd Says (126)

    • January 18th 2018 @ 6:50am
      AR said | January 18th 2018 @ 6:50am | ! Report

      We won’t see any new clubs for a very long time. And thank god.

      The AFL has ‘front-loaded’ its expansion investment – as well as its stadium/infrastructure investments – so that it can focus purely on consolidation for the next 15+ years.
      The NRL and ALeague, in particular, don’t have that luxury – the latter desperately needing more teams, yet without money or vision of infrastructure to make it happen.

      Eventually…the next 3 clubs will be out of Tas, Per3 and Syd3…but that is many years away.

      • January 18th 2018 @ 9:24am
        Aligee said | January 18th 2018 @ 9:24am | ! Report

        Your last sentence is what i have suggested ( except Tassie) , my time frame may be more ambitious though.

    • January 18th 2018 @ 7:08am
      Not so super said | January 18th 2018 @ 7:08am | ! Report

      This comment has been removed for breaching The Roar’s comments policy.

      • January 18th 2018 @ 8:59am
        Not so super said | January 18th 2018 @ 8:59am | ! Report

        Wow, must have been really bad

      • January 18th 2018 @ 9:23am
        Aligee said | January 18th 2018 @ 9:23am | ! Report

        Would just like it noted i did not see this post or have ever asked the Roar to remove anyone’s post.

        • Roar Guru

          January 18th 2018 @ 9:33am
          Cat said | January 18th 2018 @ 9:33am | ! Report

          It was code war junk

          • January 18th 2018 @ 10:46am
            jeff dustby said | January 18th 2018 @ 10:46am | ! Report

            i saw it, it just pointed out the authors over exuberance of the sheerin balls success in the Harbour city. somehow the author thinks playing in a handful of private schools makes the iron hot?

            perhaps a bit precious, cat?

            • January 18th 2018 @ 10:58am
              Aligee said | January 18th 2018 @ 10:58am | ! Report

              Thanks for your post Jeff, of course I am over exuberant, to make things work you sometimes need to be, ATM the game of Australian football is on many measures more likely than not the strongest it has ever been in NSW, 50 teams playing across a handful of exclusive schools in Sydney represents a big change in thinking and demographics, but it is only part of a much larger pie, the game is on a big upward curve in Sydney across boys and now girls from West to East.

            • Roar Guru

              January 18th 2018 @ 11:04am
              Cat said | January 18th 2018 @ 11:04am | ! Report

              It did nothing of the sort jeff dustby. The post was basically, “what I want to see is a real international presence and a world cup”.

            • January 18th 2018 @ 11:27am
              RandyM said | January 18th 2018 @ 11:27am | ! Report

              A third Sydney team would be pretty risky. We haven’t seen what would happen if the Swans have a few years down the bottom (as per the Lions). GWS are flying high right now and have very modest support.

              • January 18th 2018 @ 11:42am
                Aligee said | January 18th 2018 @ 11:42am | ! Report

                Agree with those comments, things can change very quickly over a couple of years, it is not hard and fast and I could completely be wrong. GWS was a stupid move or a master stroke, I believe it opens the door for a third team at some stage

              • Roar Guru

                January 18th 2018 @ 12:00pm
                Cat said | January 18th 2018 @ 12:00pm | ! Report

                Lions have been down for more than ‘a few years’. That’s the real issue. Swans would survive just fine with 3-4 years rebuilding. Its when clubs have to rebuild the rebuild of the rebuild like Melbourne a few years back, that support really starts to wane. Fans just need to be able to see hope and a future. I believe the Lions finally have that for the first time in a very long time.

              • January 18th 2018 @ 4:42pm
                clipper said | January 18th 2018 @ 4:42pm | ! Report

                Depends on where you put the third team. With Sydney now an all code city, it does open the door for the A league and AFL to capitalise, although in saying that, it would be a risky move and could drain both the other teams. AFL attendance numbers are increasing in Sydney, NRL’s are decreasing, but that could change in the future.

    • Roar Guru

      January 18th 2018 @ 7:48am
      Cat said | January 18th 2018 @ 7:48am | ! Report

      I can’t see any expansion for at least another decade. Where the AFL expands to will depend on the purpose of the expansion. There was a reason why GC and Western Sydney were chosen. The AFL’s goal was not to service areas it was strong in. It was to go where they could add people who were not already following the game. Where clubs are added the next expansion will again depend on the purpose the AFL defines for that expansion.

    • Roar Guru

      January 18th 2018 @ 8:06am
      Redb said | January 18th 2018 @ 8:06am | ! Report

      Traditional view: I would think a 3rd Perth team and Tasmania. However, GWS and GC are not yet consolidated. It’s highly possible any new teams would come in only at the expense of 2 Melb teams in the next 10-15 years.

      Aspirational : NZ and 3rd Sydney or NT/Nth Qld.

      • January 18th 2018 @ 9:00am
        Aligee said | January 18th 2018 @ 9:00am | ! Report

        Highly unlikely any Vic teams would go, they provide the many many derbies that really fund the comp, even weak Vic teams can get good crowds and membership on up’ years.

        • January 18th 2018 @ 11:34am
          truetigerfan said | January 18th 2018 @ 11:34am | ! Report

          No derbies here in Victoria Ali, gee.

        • Roar Guru

          January 18th 2018 @ 1:05pm
          Redb said | January 18th 2018 @ 1:05pm | ! Report

          I just think its a possibility and more likely to effect the smaller Melb clubs such as North Melb who are not in any major derbies anyway. I’m not talking Ess, Coll Carl or Rich.

    • Roar Guru

      January 18th 2018 @ 8:22am
      Wayne said | January 18th 2018 @ 8:22am | ! Report

      Perth, the longest road trip in the league (with exception to China game), so lets add another one there?

      Canberra gets shafted by GWS arrangement where they want us to ‘adopt’ GWS for 3 games a season. The AFL fans that are here in Canberra, a lot already have teams already.

      Tassie would be next cab off the rank, and it won’t be an expansion it will be a forced relocation.

      • Roar Guru

        January 18th 2018 @ 8:26am
        Cat said | January 18th 2018 @ 8:26am | ! Report

        Forced relocation will never happen. It would have to be a willing relocation and no team is anywhere close to wanting or needing to move. Attempting to force a team to move would just result in a board being ousted and a new one installed that didn’t agree with moving and endless lawsuits.

        • January 18th 2018 @ 9:18am
          Reservoir Animal said | January 18th 2018 @ 9:18am | ! Report

          Even if a club board decided to relocate, the fans would quickly vote them out for a resistance board and the whole thing would be scuttled.

          Nobody at the current AFL house is interested in forcing a team to merge, relocate or fold and even if they were, their target club(s) and their fans would put up such a fight that the whole process could take over a decade. Even Fitzroy took a long time to get rid of and they were a much bigger basket case than any club is today.

          • Roar Guru

            January 18th 2018 @ 9:34am
            Cat said | January 18th 2018 @ 9:34am | ! Report

            And there was no social media to rally support in those days either. Today’s world is a lot different.

            • January 18th 2018 @ 12:06pm
              Slane said | January 18th 2018 @ 12:06pm | ! Report

              I’m not saying it WILL happen, but for an American you are being awfully dismissive of clubs moving interstate. Obviously the clubs in Aus aren’t the playthings of billionaires but do you really think the AFL would hesitate to move a club if the right business model came along?

              • Roar Guru

                January 18th 2018 @ 1:18pm
                Cat said | January 18th 2018 @ 1:18pm | ! Report

                I already know for a fact the AFL tried to get NM to move to the Gold Coast with a $100m enticement. It failed, obviously. The AFL simply does not have the power to force a team to move. Private owners or team in the US do have the power to move teams they own.
                AFL club in effect are ‘owned’ by the supporters. Why would any supporter desire to move their team to a location that would make it near impossible for most to ever get to games again? There is a reason why most fans are fans of teams local to them.

              • January 18th 2018 @ 1:24pm
                andyl12 said | January 18th 2018 @ 1:24pm | ! Report

                I am also American and I can tell you there is no comparison between the way North Melbourne is run and the way an NFL team is run. Until private ownership returns to AFL football (and when it was tried in the 80s we all know how that went), no club board will have any effective authority to engineer a relocation.

              • January 18th 2018 @ 1:51pm
                Slane said | January 18th 2018 @ 1:51pm | ! Report

                And the reason you wrote that AFL clubs are ‘owned’ by their members instead of owned by their members is because you know each club has varying degrees of private/public ownership. North Melbourne being one of the most privately owned AFL clubs. One of the main reasons they turned down the move to the Gold Coast was because the offer was predicated on the AFL taking ownership of the club after the move.

              • Roar Guru

                January 18th 2018 @ 2:18pm
                Cat said | January 18th 2018 @ 2:18pm | ! Report

                During October 2007, a group called We Are North Melbourne emerged and launched a public campaign, calling for ordinary members to be given the final say on the relocation issue. While the group became synonymous with the push to keep the club in Melbourne, its first priority was to see the club’s shareholder structure wound-up and control returned to ordinary members.

                North Melbourne reverted to public company in November 2008.

            • January 22nd 2018 @ 6:23pm
              Steve009 said | January 22nd 2018 @ 6:23pm | ! Report

              Rallying through Social media isgreat, but north Melbourne supporters should try supporting their team by turning up to games, before north is forced south.
              It won’t happen under the happy to have been handed the job Gill, but one day the VFL may continue with their initial vision of a national competition. North would be first in line to be relocated and like Sydney and Brisbane they wouldn’t get a choice under strong AFL leadership

              • Roar Guru

                January 22nd 2018 @ 6:37pm
                Cat said | January 22nd 2018 @ 6:37pm | ! Report

                Different day and age. Don’t care who is CEO of the AFL, they aren’t going to be able to force a club to move.

              • January 24th 2018 @ 7:49am
                Steve009 said | January 24th 2018 @ 7:49am | ! Report

                In North’s case they can just take away their AFL financial support in which they rely on.

        • January 18th 2018 @ 9:59am
          Alicesprings said | January 18th 2018 @ 9:59am | ! Report

          Relocation will figure in expansion sooner or later. However would be a shame for Tassie to get lumped with North.

          North is on borrowed time – how many different markets have they tested the water in? Canberra, Sydney, Hobart, Ballarat, Gold Coast etc.

          This may be a little left field but I wouldn’t be surprised if they end up in WA at some point.

          • Roar Guru

            January 18th 2018 @ 12:04pm
            Cat said | January 18th 2018 @ 12:04pm | ! Report

            What people keep ignoring is NM is in a better place than its ever been AND its doing it with zero reliance on gambling. Eventually that bubble will burst and most other clubs are going to struggle to make the transition away from their dependence on pokies and betting firms.

            • January 18th 2018 @ 2:04pm
              Alicesprings said | January 18th 2018 @ 2:04pm | ! Report

              Maybe so but NM are still very vulnerable.

              2017 average home attendance was 22k and they have the smallest revenue of VIC clubs, only marginally ahead of GWS and the SUNS.

              They simply can not afford to bottom out. If/when they have a sustained period down the bottom of the ladder, like Brisbane has over the last 10yrs, the club will come under intense pressure to relocate.

              • Roar Guru

                January 18th 2018 @ 2:14pm
                Cat said | January 18th 2018 @ 2:14pm | ! Report

                Someone is always going to have the smallest. The issue isn’t whether a club is the smallest or not, it is whether it is enough to sustain them. Of course NM attendance last year was poor, they just saw off 4 of their senior players and embarked on a rebuild. Every clubs attendance goes down when performance goes down.

                I reckon every club in the AFL would struggle if they spent 10 years with no hope.

                This issue for the AFL is to never let teams get that bad again. Clubs that have struggled; such as the Suns, Lions, Melbourne, Port Adelaide didn’t struggle just because of on field woes, they all compounded it with off field dramas as well.

            • January 18th 2018 @ 8:55pm
              Kanga Pinocchio said | January 18th 2018 @ 8:55pm | ! Report

              Cat

              You speak a lot of sense about nm

          • January 18th 2018 @ 10:26pm
            Kanga Pinocchio said | January 18th 2018 @ 10:26pm | ! Report

            A 11 th team in Victoria and a team in Singapore would make more profit .

      • January 19th 2018 @ 8:39pm
        Timmuh said | January 19th 2018 @ 8:39pm | ! Report

        Why would the AFL force a relocation to a market where the club could get maybe half the revenue of St Kilda, and provides zero prospect for growth? And zero extra media money. Tasmania will not happen in the 21st century, and would reject a relocated side anyway.
        If a side was forcibly relocated it would be to provide a seed support base for a non-traditional area where the killed off team was not seen as a pre-existing enemy (as they tried to do with the attempted North takeover).

        WA3 is a definite whenever the next expansion occurs. The only question would be whether it was paired with WA4 for NSW3.

        Canberra isn’t big enough, even Super Rugby and NRL sides are in trouble, an AFL club requires a much greater budget. The ACT economy is growing faster than other regions without a team yet, and is already bigger than Tasmania’s despite a smaller population, so maybe in a few decades. But unlikely.

        • January 19th 2018 @ 9:29pm
          RandyM said | January 19th 2018 @ 9:29pm | ! Report

          The Raiders had their highest average crowd in 2017 since 1995. They are backed by a number of profitable Leagues clubs, they are not in trouble. Not sure about the Brumbies…

          • January 19th 2018 @ 10:22pm
            Timmuh said | January 19th 2018 @ 10:22pm | ! Report

            Over a few years, the Raiders have been in poor shape. Not in danger of being forced to fold, but not too good either. The Brumbies were spoken of as one of the teams that might have got the boot from Super rugby, just as there was talk of moving them to Melbourne before the Rebels were born. Regional cities struggle to keep up with the increasingly expensive task of financing professional sport.

    • January 18th 2018 @ 8:51am
      Aligee said | January 18th 2018 @ 8:51am | ! Report

      This article has been changed a bit, i have no idea what they have done TBH, working on some old figures Melbourne has 85 seats available per 1000 head of population, Adelaide 55 and even using the new 60,000 seat stadium yet to be used Perth has around 30.

      Clearly the second biggest AFL market in the world ( Perth ) is a long way behind per capita.

      To put it another way Melbourne and Geelong has 10 teams across around 4,000,000

      Adelaide 2 teams across 1,3000,000

      Perth 2 teams – 2,000,000

      • January 18th 2018 @ 9:20am
        Reservoir Animal said | January 18th 2018 @ 9:20am | ! Report

        And a Tasmania team would be 1 across 500,000, or 1 across 250,000 when you consider the state’s geographical divide. Only fans from the half of the state in which the players live, train and play could be expected to show a worthy commitment to the club.

        • Roar Guru

          January 18th 2018 @ 9:37am
          Cat said | January 18th 2018 @ 9:37am | ! Report

          Could a Tassie team that played half its games in Hobart and half in Launceston work?

          • January 18th 2018 @ 1:22pm
            Reservoir Animal said | January 18th 2018 @ 1:22pm | ! Report

            Not unless they also trained half-here-half-there. And then there is the question of where the players live- if they all live in Hobart then the northerners will easily dismiss the team as southern.

            • January 20th 2018 @ 8:20pm
              Birdman said | January 20th 2018 @ 8:20pm | ! Report

              yes, sharing the games between Hobart and Launceston will work and yes, professional players will train whereever necessary.

        • January 18th 2018 @ 3:40pm
          johno said | January 18th 2018 @ 3:40pm | ! Report

          Of course they could – look at the Hobart Hurricanes in the BBL. Played some games in Hobart ad Launceston with good crowds. Captained by a Lonnie boy in Bailey – Boon, Punter, Faulkner all played for Tasmania and are from Launceston, but seen as Tassie heroes by all

          People think that Tassie won’t come together for a single Tassie team and yet all over the state there are now Hawks fans due to their presence in Launceston.

          If there was a Tassie team (insert Devils, Mariners nickname) which played 7 games in Hobart and maybe 4 in Launceston it would be a huge success and boon for a state that has produced players like Matthew Richardson, Jack Riewoldt, Peter Hudson, Rocket Eade, Daryl Baldock, the Febeys, and current players like Weller, Alex Pearce, Lovell, Grey, Ben Brown, Nankervis, etc etc.

          Not to mention sports callers like Tim Lane

          Its the patronising view of mainlanders that Tassie can’t have a team but teams like North Melbourne can play in Hobart and in front of 15000 people at Etihad as a going concern

          Don’t pretend that in the background the Hawks and Roos are lobbying heavily to prevent a Tasmanian team – too much money for them to lose if it happens

          • January 23rd 2018 @ 10:58am
            Kris said | January 23rd 2018 @ 10:58am | ! Report

            The North/South thing is a bit historical and overstated. it is only a 2 hour drive.

            However North playing in front of 15k at Docklands vs 15k in Hobart is quite different. The North players, coaches, medical and sports science staff all get to live and work in Melbourne. North gets to tap into the Melbourne business and sponsorship market.

            I suspect the bigger problem for Hobart would be getting the 200 or so players, admins, support staff etc to move to (and stay) in a smaller market.

            As time goes on I think Tassie becomes less and less likely. There is no, or very little population growth. The population is ageing (and sponsors wan’t young people to market to). Populations in other areas of Australia are growing rapidly. The population of Wyndham (Werribee) is forecast to grow by 200k in the next 20 years … one municipality in Melbourne will ADD almost the entire population of Hobart.

        • January 24th 2018 @ 10:04am
          Pedro The Fisherman said | January 24th 2018 @ 10:04am | ! Report

          You are comparing apples with pears RA. The other figures are for the capitals only. People do travel far and wide from country areas to watch their side play. It partly explains poor crowds for Port Adelaide when they have unsuitable timeslots for country fans to attend (eg: Thursday night, Sunday twilight …)

      • January 18th 2018 @ 4:08pm
        Martin said | January 18th 2018 @ 4:08pm | ! Report

        Perhaps there’s a case to keep Subiaco Oval as a backup, for WAFL matches and the WAFW — especially if those statistics close to the mark.

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