Fox Footy from Fox Sports
A national AFL reserves competition, or expanded VFL, could be on the cards in the coming years as West Coast flagged concerns over the club’s options in the west.
Code Sports reports Eagles CEO Trevor Nisbett fronted the WAFL club presidents on Tuesday after his struggling club was granted list concessions following a winless season and third wooden spoon in a row.
He told the presidents West Coast had the possibility of following Adelaide and Port Adelaide in abandoning their state leagues and either joining an expanded VFL or full AFL reserves competition to develop their young players.
The move would cost the WAFL $600,000 a year in license fees and $1 million if Fremantle did the same and abandoned their partnership with Peel Thunder.
The other options floated by Nisbett, to align with a WAFL club (most likely Perth Demons but this would be very hard to get across the line) or spreading their players across the league (which would be difficult to run and out-of-line with all other AFL clubs), were viewed as much more unrealistic by the presidents which is why they took the AFL reserves competition threat so seriously.
The Western and South Australian clubs are the only ones not involved in the expanded VFL, which holds the historic name despite featuring clubs in New South Wales and Queensland, including 2023 premiers Gold Coast.
Adelaide and Port Adelaide could be involved in an expanded VFL as soon as next season, according to the report, and a full AFL reserves comp is viewed as a possibility for 2027 - as long as the arrangements with AFL airline partner Virgin are changed so all team flights can be chartered.
The VFL currently features a whopping 21 clubs - 11 reserves sides for Gold Coast, Brisbane, the Western Bulldogs (Footscray), Collingwood, Richmond, North Melbourne, Carlton, GWS, Geelong, Essendon and Sydney, plus aligned sides Casey (Melbourne), Box Hill (Hawthorn) and Sandringham (St Kilda).
There are also seven stand-alone sides - Werribee, Williamstown and Port Melbourne who have financial advantages through pokie machines, plus Southport, Frankston, Northern Bullants and Coburg.
The uncompetitiveness of the latter three became a major concern last season with Coburg going winless while Northern Bullants finished with a percentage of 40.4.