Former VFL champion calls for new ‘Super League’ competition for Victorian football
With the VFL’s future unclear, a great of the league and suburban premiership coach believes the time is right for stand-alone and aligned clubs to be joined by local powerhouses in a new second-tier comp — and he’s happy for it to be called the VFA.
Paul Amy, Leader
June 19, 2020 6:00am
Denis Knight believes historic VFA/VFL clubs like Port Melbourne should be in a Victorian ‘’Super League’’.
Denis Knight first raised the idea 18 years ago.
The VFA/VFL great and suburban premiership coach’s opinion has not changed.
He believes a “Super League’’ should form the second tier of Victorian football and be supported by the AFL.
With the future of the VFL under a cloud amid talk of AFL reserves teams underpinning an eastern seaboard competition, Knight believes the time is right to consider a new state competition.
It would start with VFL clubs Coburg, Frankston, Port Melbourne, Williamstown, Werribee, Box Hill Hawks, Sandringham, the Casey Demons, and a revived Northern Bullants, and be open to powerhouse suburban clubs wanting to tackle a higher level.
Knight said the salary and points caps for the competition would be significantly higher, even double that of, say, the Eastern and Essendon District leagues, giving clubs the ability to attract the best players.
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To give it more heft, players in Victoria could only be drafted from the state’s answer to the SANFL and WAFL (the NAB League excepted), he said.
A name for the competition? Knight would be happy to go back to the future and call it the VFA, which became the VSFL and then the VFL in the early 1990s.
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“It’s all hearsay at the moment, isn’t it, but there’s enough noise about an eastern seaboard comp and I reckon the likelihood of that going ahead is really high,’’ Knight, now coaching Morwell in the Gippsland league, said.
Denis Knight believes his former club Noble Park could step into the Super League.
“So then what happens to clubs like Box Hill, Sandy and Williamstown? I don’t think the AFL would let them fall over, and you need a statewide competition of some sort.
“Now’s the right time to have a look at it. Everything’s on the table at the moment.’’
Knight believes the Super League would appeal to his former club Noble Park and its Eastern league rival Balwyn.
He said both had money but were restricted by salary and points caps.
In Noble Park’s case, it also had an outstanding ground and social club.
Knight thinks the competition could work in well with the NAB League regions, pairing Coburg with Calder Cannons, Frankston with Dandenong Stingrays, the Western Jets with Williamstown and so on.
That would open up the prospect of teams coming in from Bendigo (which has the Bendigo Pioneers) and Ballarat (Greater Western Victoria Rebels).
But it wouldn’t restrict suburban powers from taking up affiliation.
“You might start with eight clubs, you might start with 10, and that increases over time,’’ Knight said.
Denis Knight coaching Norwood in the Eastern league.
“Anyone successful club that wants to play in it and has the business model to sustain it, go for it. If they’re keen and they’re viable, have a look at it
“I reckon there would be a lot of interest, because people want to see the best sides playing each other.’’
Knight grew up watching Oakleigh in the old VFA and appreciates the history of clubs like Port Melbourne and Coburg.
He said he would hate to see them fade into insignificance.
“They have to have somewhere to go,’’ Knight said.
Knight played in Dandenong’s 1991 VFA premierships, and in three VFL premierships with Springvale. He’s also a three-time Eastern league Division 1 premiership coach.
He raised the idea of a “Super League’’ in 2002 and it generated great discussion.
Knight is happy for it to resume.
“I’ll ready to get smashed again,’’ he said.
“Whatever you come up with, people are going to go through the pros and cons and knock it and come up with a better way.
“Bottom line is, we have to find a new way.’’
Knight’s model is similar to that proposed by former Hawthorn star Gary Buckenara, who in April called for a return to a “true VFL competition’’.
“I would love to see the current stand-alone VFL teams and clubs with AFL affiliates (Box Hill Hawks, Sandringham and Casey Demons) be joined by teams from the country and other major regions,’’ Buckenara said.
“Create a 14-team competition featuring the following teams: Port Melbourne/Oakleigh, Williamstown/Western region, Werribee (including the Lara, Melton and Bacchus Marsh regions), Coburg/Northern, Box Hill/Eastern, Sandringham, Frankston (including Dandenong and Peninsula), Calder, Geelong, Warrnambool, Ballarat, Bendigo, Shepparton (including the Murray region) and Gippsland.’’