The West Coast Eagles will for the first time field a reserves side to play in the West Australian Football League (WAFL) next season.
The decision to allow a second Eagles team to become the 10th entry in the state league was unanimously endorsed at a meeting of WAFL club presidents last night.
West Coast said the change would benefit its players who missed out on selection for AFL games or who were returning from injury.
The club said it was also a long-term fix as its five-year WAFL alignment with the East Perth Football Club came to an end.
"This solution is paramount to the development of our young players who are not selected in the senior side," West Coast CEO Trevor Nisbett said. "Having those players learning their craft in the same team, playing to the same game plan is essential, and we greatly appreciate the support of the WAFL clubs.
"While we enjoyed the alignment with East Perth, despite some challenges, it was always our preference to have a stand-alone team in the WAFL."
No advantage over existing clubs
West Australian Football Commission (WAFC) CEO Gavin Taylor said a West Coast reserves team would also provide an better financial return to the other WAFL clubs.
He said measures would be taken to ensure the Eagles reserves side would be competitive in the state league, while not being unfairly dominant. "We are very conscious of balancing the needs of all parties to maintain the integrity of the WAFL competition while also supporting the success of our AFL clubs," Mr Taylor said.
"An important component to the West Coast Eagles' licence will be their list build, recruiting and player payment conditions, which will be further developed by a joint working party by the end of October 2018.
"With such a significant change to the WAFL competition, it was also agreed that a full review will be undertaken on all of the conditions associated with the West Coast licence by season end [in] 2019."
Eagles to pay $800k annual fee
Despite the addition of a 10th team to the WAFL, all teams will still play one another twice during the season, while the schedule will also continue to feature byes and marquee rounds.
It is expected each club will still play 18 games across 21 rounds, with West Coast to play all of its fixtures at the opposition's home ground regardless of whether it is technically a home or away contest.
West Coast will pay a one-off sign-on fee of $90,000 to enter the WAFL, as well as an annual contribution of $800,000.
The sign-on fee will be distributed equally between the nine WAFL clubs.
The annual $800,000 will include $45,000 to be shared among the clubs, $54,000 to cover the costs of an extra game per round and a $230,000 top-up payment for East Perth to reinstate it as a non-partner club.
Mr Nisbett said despite some challenges, the Eagles enjoyed the alignment with the Royals, but it was always its preference to have a stand-alone WAFL side.
The Fremantle Dockers remain aligned with Peel Thunder and have indicated there are no plans to change that in the near future