From the Sunday Age
Reported by Brent Diamond
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Sandringham are "adamant" they will continue to field a development team next season, despite being set to sign a new deal with AFL affiliate St Kilda in the "coming weeks".

Zebras general manager John Mennie said, despite speculation, his team would not be swayed into dropping their development squad team, whereas some other clubs – including Coburg, Casey and Frankston – may look to do so. 

Saintly Zebra: St Kilda ruckman Jason Holmes in action for Sandringham.
Saintly Zebra: St Kilda ruckman Jason Holmes in action for Sandringham. Photo: Ken Irwin

Mennie firmly believes that negotiations with St Kilda have not included dropping their development team, which allows Sandringham increased depth in the case of injuries to Saints players. 

The future of the VFL development league (the VFL reserves) is up in the air and is expected to come under increasing pressure at the next league meeting. There are currently nine competing teams in the competition, most notably dominated by Williamstown and Box Hill in recent times.

There is a stigma at some VFL clubs that if they do drop their development league team – saving them financially per year – they would, in turn, risk being seen as giving up on their VFA identity, if aligned with an AFL partner.

Many of the clubs' local player bases would also be lost to another club with further opportunities or local footy for good.

Some coaches argue, however, that if clubs were to drop their development league team, then they could cash in on more elite players, such as delisted AFL players. Many delisted AFL players are lost to the system, more so because VFL clubs cannot compete with the amount of money offered at local level.

This is perhaps an even more important sentiment for stand-alone VFL clubs, who are desperate to keep up with the talent base at AFL-listed stand-alone clubs.

The Zebras pending deal with St Kilda is considered to be a breakthrough for the future of the competition, which will have four VFL clubs thriving with full-time alignments.  The others are Hawthorn-Box Hill, Northern Blues-Carlton, Werribee-North Melbourne and Casey Scorpions-Melbourne.

St Kilda's backflip came after redeveloping Moorabbin, which was expected to be a fillip in a bid to introduce a stand-alone team from next season. 

The only concern for AFL Victoria is that the competition will be forced to continue to have a weekly bye in their fixture with an uneven 15 teams.