AFL's north east boost
THE AFL has announced the formation of a new second-tier competition, which includes teams from New South Wales, ACT, Queensland and the Northern Territory. THE AFL has announced the formation of a new second-tier competition, which includes teams from New South Wales, ACT, Queensland and the Northern Territory.
Beginning next season, the North East Australian Football League (NEAFL) is expected to boost the standard of the game in the northern states.
The NEAFL is also aiming to provide greater competition for reserves teams from the Brisbane Lions, Gold Coast, the Sydney Swans and GWS.
In short, the new league brings together two existing competitions - the QAFL and AFL Canberra.
The Gold Coast reserves have been added to the QAFL - which already included the Lions reserves and NT Thunder - and that competition has been renamed the northern conference. It will have 10 clubs.
GWS has been added to the top division of AFL Canberra, which has been renamed the eastern conference. The Swans' reserves were already part of that competition, which will have seven clubs including local powerhouses Ainslie and Belconnen.
There will be a grand final held in each conference, with the premiers playing off for the NEAFL flag.
The other big difference from the status quo is that cross-conference games will be played at various points throughout the season.
That allows the AFL-aligned Lions, Suns, Swans and GWS to play each other on a regular basis.
In 2011, GWS will field only one team and this will play in the NEAFL. From 2012, GWS will have a side in the AFL and another in the NEAFL.
"This is a unique and exciting competition and further enhances the AFL's presence in communities in the ACT, NSW, Queensland and NT," the AFL's general manager of national and international development David Matthews said.