The AFL competition consists of 18 teams from the states of Victoria, New South Wales, Queensland, South Australia, and Western Australia with Victoria accounting for the majority with 10 representatives.
The AFL is governed by the AFL Commission, which is charged with overseeing and upholding the laws, standards and ethics of the game.
In the 1987 a salary cap was introduced to as neutralisation policy to inhibit the dominance of the competitions wealthier franchises.
The competition is structured around 23 home and away rounds before a four week final series that culminates in September. The Grand Final is held at the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) each year.
The AFL’s highest award, the Brownlow Medal, is awarded to the ‘best and fairest’ player in the competition for the home-and-away season as determined by officiating field umpires after each game.
The current premiers are the Hawthorn Hawks, who defeated the Fremantle Dockers in the 2013 AFL grand final.
The competition was founded in 1897 as the Victorian Football League, a breakaway of the Victorian Football Association, and originally comprised sides exclusively from Victoria. Following expansions throughout the 1980’s, the competition’s name was changed to the Australia Football League (AFL).
Only one side, Melbourne University Football Club, has exited the competition since its inception as the VFL, however in 1996, the Fitzroy Football Club and the Brisbane Bears merged to form the Brisbane Lions.
During the 1980’s there was a concerted effort to merge the VFL, the South Australia National Football League and the West Australia Football League following the growing success and profitability of the Victorian competition.
South Melbourne became the first VFL club to relocate interstate, and the club moved to Sydney to become the Sydney Swans in 1982. In 1986 the WAFL and Queensland Australian Football League were awarded licences to join the VFL, leading to the foundation of the West Coast Eagles and Brisbane Bears in 1987.
Essendon remains the competitions most dominant club winning 16 premierships, Carlton have also won 16 but have reached the Grand Final one less time than Essendon. Collingwood have won 15 premierships and have been involved in another 41 making the ‘Magpies’ the most prolific finals franchise in terms of Grand Final appearances.