How long should a rebuild take?

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Realistically a rebuild should take 2-3 years, pushing four at a maximum.

You don’t expect sides to stay up much longer than four years consistently; so why would we accept sides missing the eight for such a prolonged period of time.

Three bottom end cycles where your opportunity to draft a second round player of the same quality of the best player available on draft day to the premiers should be enough to bring you back into contention. Every single one of your picks is a quality 20 picks higher than what that team gets to select, it’s a huge advantage.

A club’s own negligence shouldn’t come in to it.
 
Realistically a rebuild should take 2-3 years, pushing four at a maximum.

You don’t expect sides to stay up much longer than four years consistently; so why would we accept sides missing the eight for such a prolonged period of time.

Three bottom end cycles where your opportunity to draft a second round player of the same quality of the best player available on draft day to the premiers should be enough to bring you back into contention. Every single one of your picks is a quality 20 picks higher than what that team gets to select, it’s a huge advantage.

A club’s own negligence shouldn’t come in to it.
Not all of us can trade our first round picks knowing we're getting the number 1 player anyway.
 

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Not all of us can trade our first round picks knowing we're getting the number 1 player anyway.
Oh silly me forgetting to take that into account.

OP I’m changing my answer to 20+ years for a rebuild, probably longer.
 
Do the 'bottom out' years count for people? The Eagles sorta bottomed out in 2021 and I wouldn't call that year as part of the rebuild.
Realistically 2022 was year one although those inside the club didn't really see it that way unfortunately, blaming injuries and covid protocols.
We're in year 2/3 of the rebuild and realistically we should be pushing for finals in 2026.
 
If you want to compete, you (usually) need a lot of your players on 100+ games.

So it is
5 years for your first batch of draftees
6 for your 2nd
7 for your 3rd
etc.

The only way to do it quicker is to trade/FA on mass and not butcher it or get bulk handouts early in your build so that you have more quality in the first 2 drafts.

You should expect it to take at least 5-6 from your first rebuild draft to play finals and then probably another 2-3 before you compete.

If you can compete after 8 you're doing well.

Obviously the northern clubs have different parameters so this is just for the other 14 clubs.
 
You ideally want the guys youve drafted with top picks to have their shit together, able to run out games, physically developed enough, confident in their abilities, etc. If we look at the Port and Freo mids, thats been at about age 22ish.
You also need talls, they take longer than mids so they are probably the bottle neck.
If you look at North, theyll just be waiting on good young KPPs to develop now that they have their smalls which I think was a blunder by them.

Takes a year or 2 of being outside the 8 before a club commits, so not counting that you probably want 3 years in the bottom 4, followed by a couple more years in that next tier while missing finals with a reasonably good success rate of draft hits, then a few free agents/mature trade targets to fill out the list.

5 years of rebuilding sound right? maybe stretch it to 7 before it goes too long if dont have many late draft hits.
If a club doesnt bottom out properly they might take longer as they find it a lot harder to find elite talent
 

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An uncompromised draft would make it significantly quicker, but as frustrating as it is, it's going to get worse before it gets better. The best young talent should be available to all teams, regardless of whether teams still 'pay up' for them, or list management incompetence, or time invested in academies or bloodlines

Obviously it takes more astute recruitment, strategy and culture, outside the national draft to get it right.

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Realistically a rebuild should take 2-3 years, pushing four at a maximum.
I'd argue that's a list recontextualisation rather than what's meant by rebuild. You - Collingwood - have been excellent at doing this; Sydney did it between 2016-2018; Hawthorn did it between 2009-2012; Port did it after 2016, with Aliir, Butters, Rozee and getting in Horne-Francis.

It doesn't always take just the 3 years, either. Sydney's involved the removal of the old for the new, getting in Heeney, Cunningham, Blakey, Mills, Florent, Papley while slowly tapering off the older brigade and trading out others; some of this development happened years before they actually began to completely recontextualise the pieces of their ones. You're not completely rebuilding your list, either; you're simply filtering out the old and those whose peak has arguably been seen and surpassed (Aliir, Hewitt, Newman; all three have gone on to be excellent servants for their respective clubs, but it's pretty arguable as to whether or not Sydney needed any of them) by those currently on the list who are younger and with superior characteristics athletically or skill wise.
You don’t expect sides to stay up much longer than four years consistently; so why would we accept sides missing the eight for such a prolonged period of time.
... because if you suck already - as in, bottom 4 - and your list profile in terms of age demographics is contention, you have more list rotation and development required to bring you to top 4 levels of capability. You're going to make drafting mistakes - indeed, it's frequently drafting/recruiting mistakes that got you into this mess - and you're going to have to rotate out some of the players you expected to come good. Some clubs develop for AFL better than others do, and that'll be the difference between those offshoots playing at other clubs (Sydney's cast offs have a sensational record, Carlton's not so much) but all clubs will make mistakes and have to compensate for them.

It's this compensation that causes rebuilds to take so long. If drafting were a precise science, you could absolutely rebuild quickly; if you didn't have to rebuild a list of 40+5 and the sizes of teams on the field were smaller (11 instead of 18) you could compensate for injuries more; if this sport were less dangerous and resulted in less injuries.

But without this, it wouldn't be footy.
Three bottom end cycles where your opportunity to draft a second round player of the same quality of the best player available on draft day to the premiers should be enough to bring you back into contention.
It's not, or has the better part of the last 20 years of you lot laughing at our No.1 draft picks taught you nothing?
Every single one of your picks is a quality 20 picks higher than what that team gets to select, it’s a huge advantage.

A club’s own negligence shouldn’t come in to it.
... and yet, it does.
 
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Depends on how you define rebuild. What’s the starting point and what’s the end goal? Is it making finals? Is it a flag?
Legitimately competing for a flag has to be the definition. Circumstances mean you don’t always get there but finals are not what people set out to achieve, the ultimate is.

Don’t ask me to define legitimately competing for a flag now 😂
 
Legitimately competing for a flag has to be the definition. Circumstances mean you don’t always get there but finals are not what people set out to achieve, the ultimate is.

Don’t ask me to define legitimately competing for a flag now 😂

But I think that’s where it’s tough and that’s why there’s so much confusion.

Take a team like the Bombers. They are nowhere close to a flag based on their list but should make finals. Is that their rebuild complete?
 
But I think that’s where it’s tough and that’s why there’s so much confusion.

Take a team like the Bombers. They are nowhere close to a flag based on their list but should make finals. Is that their rebuild complete?
I wouldn’t have them as legitimate contenders for a flag in any of the past twenty seasons, nor at this stage for this year on the evidence available. The latter might change but I think unless you’re being spoken of as one of the two or three strongest contenders for a flag you aren’t there. Subjective I know.
 
But I think that’s where it’s tough and that’s why there’s so much confusion.

Take a team like the Bombers. They are nowhere close to a flag based on their list but should make finals. Is that their rebuild complete?

I'd have said Top-4 finishes is a good indicator of a 'successful' rebuild. It's also where realistically you'd say you've got a good chance of winning a Premiership from.

There's a lot of luck involved in actually winning a GF, but finishing Top-4 requires a whole season form line to stand up, doing it for multiple years in a row an even clearer indication.

For example Brisbane; no Premierships in recent years but

2018: 15th
2019: 2nd
2020: 2nd
2021: 4th
2022: 6th
2023: 2nd

So 4 years (thus far) of Top 4 finishes in the last 5 seasons would say they've built a competitive list that's a genuine chance of winning a Premiership. I'd say that's a tick for a successful rebuild.

Prior to that they'd been in no-mans land for a bit after their last Premiership, not quite falling away entirely but not quite rebuilding the list fully, then really bottomed out in the mid 2010's.

Obviously the goal is to win a Premiership, and you have outliers like the Bulldogs who've never finished Top 4 under Bevo but have a Premiership and a GF appearance.

I wouldn't say a rebuild is complete and successful until you're actually producing the Top-4 finishes, which means you only really know it in hindsight. EFC is a list that should be on an upwards trajectory but still has obvious holes to fill and I don't think any supporter (or club source) would say it's complete. If that results in ping ponging around the 6 - 10 range for a few years when complete before falling down again you couldn't call it a 'successful' rebuild.
 
It's not, or has the better part of the last 20 years of you lot laughing at our No.1 draft picks taught you nothing?
I appreciate the well thought out response and I think there’s merit to all the points you laid out, even where counter to mine.

I’ll use that team as an example, where in consecutive drafts you’ve taken Murphy, Kennedy (albeit he wouldn’t be available to you under current rules) Gibbs and Kreuzer in the space or three drafts. That quartet should be enough to set your side up for a tilt from the point at which those players hit 21, albeit that does require an additional two years in the rebuild to what I’d allowed for in my example. You still have a full rounds worth of players to cycle through with every subsequent pick to your biggest competitors too, which can be further used to build your cache. In 2005 you were probably unlucky that it was exceptionally weak in the shallow end of the draft which means those seconds and thirds didn’t translate to quality assets. Acknowledging some picks are busts as well, it’s not a perfect, exact science.

All in all, I do think that time in a rebuild phase should be relatively commensurate to the amount of time a side can be expected to “stay up”, given that those sides and their performances should be a culmination of their drafting and list build strategy. I don’t think it’s reasonable to expect any side to stay up longer than four years - a testament to that is the “predict the ladder in three years time” thread which constantly churns out wildly inaccurate predictions. There of course are exceptions both ways - Geelong and Essendon of the last twenty years the two primary examples
 
Ok for a club like north or even Melbourne who completely rebuilded from the bottom it should take a good 6-7 years (counting from when Melbourne had to start the rebuild again in 2012, had a bad start but by 2018 begun to become a quality side and won a flag 3 years later). I’m not gonna start on us because I’ve decided to use a team which tasted success out of a rebuild.
Richmond and Brisbane are two other examples, both had to completely start from the bottom in 2010 and 2013 and within a few years started making finals.

Now an example of a fast rebuild would be the bulldogs in 2012-2014 and Collingwood 2021.
Now both clubs had years of finals experience leading into these years but were losing a lot of experience after falling short, but kept on some valuable veterans and role players while smartly trading and drafting for needs, the bulldogs nailed their top draft picks while Collingwood, on top of getting daicos, nailed their mature aged recruiting and development of their 21-24 year olds who all played a role in last years grand final.
 

How long should a rebuild take?

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