Australia has changed and it continues to change at a fast rate every single day and every single week now.
It’s time that the AFL and the NRL actually wake up to this new reality and the players that play this game wake up to the new reality that the gravy train is over.
The time of greed and thinking it’s all about their competitions and their sports is over. It’s also time that the media wake up as well and stopped focusing all their attention on these two competitions.
Things now have to change. Once we move out of this current COVID-19 pandemic – and we will – everything will be different and the AFL, NRL, players and media need to get a grip on this.
So where should the changes be made?
There can no longer be an 18-team AFL competition. It must be reduced back to ten teams at the least and 12 teams at the most, and Melbourne clubs must either merge or move back to the VFL.
The Victorians need to wake up. The football world doesn’t revolve around them and their clubs don’t own the sport like they think they do.
So what would my new competition look like?
The interstate clubs that remain are the West Coast Eagles, Adelaide Crows, Fremantle Dockers, Port Adelaide Power, Sydney Swans and Brisbane Bears.
The GWS Giants and Gold Coast Suns merge and move to Darwin.
The Melbourne clubs that remain are the Collingwood Magpies, Melbourne Demons and Richmond Tigers.
Hawthorn and North Melbourne merge and move to Tasmania. Geelong remains as stand-alone team.
Essendon, Carlton and the Western Bulldogs all go back to the VFL.
That gives you a 12-team, truly national competition instead of what we currently have, which is basically an extended VFL.
In terms of the NRL, the cuts have to be tougher and harder to get a viable competition post this COVID-19 crisis, and unfortunately once again those cuts have to come in Sydney. The cold, hard reality is the NRL is even less of a truly national competition than the AFL is.
The NRL must go from 16 teams to either eight or ten teams.
The clubs that remain as stand-alone entities are the Brisbane Broncos, Canberra Raiders, Sydney Roosters, South Sydney Rabbitohs, Newcastle Knights and New Zealand Warriors.
The Cronulla Sharks and Wests Tigers merge and are relocated to Perth immediately and become a new Perth team.
Canterbury and St George Illawarra merge and are relocated to Adelaide immediately and become a new Adelaide team.
North Queensland and Gold Coast merge and play home games in both Townsville and Port Moresby.
Penrith and Parramatta merge and move to Bathurst. This gives you a ten-team NRL competition.
The AFL and NRL should not come back in 2020 at all, and they should instead let the state leagues such as the WAFL, SANFL and NSWRL lead the way in bringing sport back. Also they should be both doing everything they can to support these state leagues and country and local competitions to get back on their feet in 2020.
Then in 2021 they can return as a slimmed-down competition with the new structures in place. The players in both the AFL and NRL are also going to need to accept that the high payments they may have been getting are now over. In fact, they may have to go out and find work in addition.
What we are seeing is a historic reset of the Australian sporting landscape. The AFL and NRL have two options: either they get on board and reset and use this as a opportunity to do what is needed to be done, or they can bury their heads in the sand and pretend everything is fine and will just return to normal once this is all over.
At the moment they seem to be doing the bury-head-in-the-sand option. Time is going to tell.