Long-term future of the AFL.

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Gigantor

Brownlow Medallist
May 13, 2012
15,377
5,472
AFL Club
GWS
Other Teams
Brumbies, Socceroos
Ok thats not really true - it was fairly keenly followed up until at least 1991. Post AFL interest definitely dropped
1991?
Well, my memory of interstate footy goes back to the mid 1970s.
In comparison to club footy, Melburnians have never given a damn about interstate footy.
Sure, every now and then you get some reminiscing about the big V, but there's no massive clamour to get it back.
It's gone, and on the whole, Melbourne footy fans don't actually care all that much that it's gone.

To quote wikipedia:
Interstate football was less popular in Victoria than it was in the other states. ... At its lowest, interstate games in Victoria during the 1930s could sometimes fail to draw 10,000 spectators – less than the average home-and-away crowd ... Eventually, due to these lower levels of public interest, less interstate football came to be played in Victoria: and for the majority of the 1980s, when State of Origin football was at its peak, the Victorian team did not play a single match at home.
 

The_Wookie

Queenslander
Jul 2, 2010
34,817
32,639
Scamander
AFL Club
Carlton
1991?
Well, my memory of interstate footy goes back to the mid 1970s.
In comparison to club footy, Melburnians have never given a damn about interstate footy.
Sure, every now and then you get some reminiscing about the big V, but there's no massive clamour to get it back.
It's gone, and on the whole, Melbourne footy fans don't actually care all that much that it's gone.
I lived in Melbourne in the 80s and early 90s. I was at the 'G for the big game in 89 v South Australia with 90,000 others. The problem was never support.

It was never properly promoted, the eligibility rules kept being changed and the league let the clubs dilute the product by allowing flimsy excuses to eliminate eligble players from participating.

Your right though, people dont give a damn any more unless they are hardline traditionalists.
 

Bjo187

Team Captain
Apr 30, 2020
394
514
AFL Club
Essendon
I think the only way state football will return is if a New South Wales or Queensland get enough players to form a competitive enough team to challenge Victoria. So that would be at least 30 or so years.
 

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RedV3x

Premiership Player
Dec 14, 2015
3,419
870
AFL Club
Fremantle
I think the only way state football will return is if a New South Wales or Queensland get enough players to form a competitive enough team to challenge Victoria.
I'm not sure that Victoria is that strong. It's seems that the "VFL" is more like AFL reserves competition.
I know NSW has beaten W.A. on at least one occasion.
We're not talking about a pure state competition. We're talking about a state-based competition.
Thus you could have two Victorian teams - city and country for example as they do now.
 

NoobPie

Cancelled
Sep 21, 2016
7,356
5,250
AFL Club
Collingwood
I think the only way state football will return is if a New South Wales or Queensland get enough players to form a competitive enough team to challenge Victoria. So that would be at least 30 or so years.

The fact that they can put a team on the park full of AFL players is enough. NSW would be more than competitive against SA right no I would have thought

The main reason you would bring it back is to leverage the concept in NSW and Queensland. You basically add another layer of interest generation in those places and provide an opportunity for representative football for kids that might be tossing up between football and one of the three other codes

To make it work you would need to

1) play it at the end of the season
2) pay the players a decent amount

Any attempt to play during the season, or the preseason, is doomed to fail

I would
-play 3 games at the end of the season
-perhaps initially either every other year of every three years
-teams start with seedings based on the previous year
-play every team at lest once over three seasons
-first two games determine rankings with the last game championship game and 3rd versus 4th, 5th versus 6th.
-play alternating home and away except for Victoria who always plays away
 

The_JHF_Clinic

Draftee
Nov 15, 2021
3
7
AFL Club
North Melbourne
The discussion about conferences in this thread has got me thinking about how they could be used to improve the AFL season structure and also facilitate expansion. I believe that after the inclusion of team 20, conferences should be strongly considered. With 20 teams, some clubs will be experiencing seriously long premiership droughts. Even in Euro soccer leagues with 20 clubs; in addition to the title race, there are the battles for promotion/relegation, Champions/Europa league positions etc, which keep the fans of most teams engaged throughout the season.

The MLB and the NFL celebrate American and National League/Conference champions before those teams compete in the World Series or Super Bowl. A time to acknowledge conference champions in AFL could be after the H&A season and before the finals. Some might argue that a successful H&A season is only half the job done, which is true, although the Premiership race will only become harder with more teams competing. Therefore, a conference system could provide high performing teams (who don’t quite get it done in finals) a chance to achieve something each season. For example, a team like St Kilda from the late 2000’s didn’t win a flag, but might manage to win a few conference championships during their window.

Over time, Conference championships could become meaningful to clubs and their supporters; especially if structured geographically to promote rivalries. As previously mentioned, there’s no way of making the comp entirely fair when 50% of teams come from one state, but a conference system can help create a fixture that’s less random so it’s an improvement on the current 18 club-22 round season.

I’ve had a play around with models involving 4 and 5 conferences that could be utilised (with expansion) to turn the AFL into more of a national competition. Personally, I think a 4 conference model would work better for the AFL because it provides a fairer geographical split and allows for an easier expansion towards 24 teams at a later date. The main downside of the model below is that it involves the co-location of a Vic club to make it work. This would probably be unacceptable for the supporters of that club; although if you look at it logically, 5 or 6 Vic home games + access to Vic away games equals 11 or 12, which is not that bad when you consider it’s the same amount of home games that a non-Victorian club membership currently offers.

Co-location was suggested as a viable option in the Carter report in relation to Tasmania. I don’t think Tassie is the right market for that, but the NT could be due it being a smaller market and the extreme weather they have at certain times of the year. If a Vic club was going to pursue a co-location then it would likely be one of the smaller clubs (e.g. St Kilda, North, Melbourne or the Bulldogs).

4 Conference Model:

AFL Competition by 2030

20 Teams, 4 conferences, 23 Rounds, 11 home games and a magic round at the MCG (like the NRL do). Play teams in your conference twice and all other teams once.

Expansion:
  1. Tasmania Devils
  2. Canberra-Murray Rams or Tridents
  3. Northern Saints / Kangaroos / Demons / Bulldogs (co-location between Melbourne and Darwin).
All 3 clubs get access to their own academy zones.

Western Conference
  • WCE, Fremantle, Adelaide, Port Adelaide, Northern Saints / Roos / Demons / Bulldogs (Darwin 5/6, Melbourne 5/6 home games + members get access to away games in Vic).
Eastern Conference
  • Sydney, GWS, Brisbane, Gold Coast, Canberra-Murray (Canberra 8, Albury 3).
South-West Conference (SW Vic)
  • Geelong, Western Bulldogs, Essendon, Carlton, Melbourne.
South-East Conference (SE Vic + Tas)
  • Collingwood, Richmond, Hawthorn, St Kilda, Tasmania (Hobart 5/6 and Launceston 5/6).

AFL competition by 2050

24 teams, 4 conferences, 24 Rounds. Play a rival from your conference twice and all other teams once.

Expansion - staggered entry of teams, not possible to do all at once:
  1. WA3 (Dingoes/Pirates) added to Western Conference.
  2. North Sydney Wales (wearing state colours and playing out of North Sydney Oval) added to Eastern Conference.
  3. Queensland Crocs added to Eastern Conference (like the NT club, having dual bases would be advantageous at certain times of the year when there’s extreme weather in FNQ).
  4. New Zealand added to South-East Conference.
  5. Canberra-Murray moved to South-West Conference.
Western Conference
  • WCE, Fremantle, Adelaide, Port Adelaide, Northern Saints / Kangaroos / Demons / Bulldogs, WA3.
Eastern Conference
  • Sydney, GWS, Brisbane, Gold Coast, North Sydney Wales (N Syd 8, Newcastle 4), Queensland Crocs (Cairns 5, Sunny Coast 5, Townsville 2).
South-West Conference
  • Melbourne, Geelong, Western Bulldogs, Essendon, Carlton, Canberra-Murray.
South-East Conference
  • Collingwood, Richmond, Tasmania, Hawthorn, St Kilda, New Zealand (Auckland 8, Wellington 2, Christchurch 2).

Finals Series (used from 20 clubs onwards) - 10 teams over 5 Weeks.
  • Top 4 = conference winners. Play qualifying finals.
  • Best 2 records in the league = host qualifying finals.
  • Best 2 runners up in the league = host elimination finals.
  • Remaining 4 best records from any conference = wildcard round for 7/8th finals spot.
  • Pre-finals bye for best 6 teams during WC Round.
  • Usual top 8 system in finals weeks 2-5.
  • Make the comp more national by sharing the GF around the best grounds in each conference so in a 4 year period it looks like: 1. MCG (South-West), 2. Ade Oval/Optus (Western), 3. MCG (South-East), 4. SCG/Gabba (Eastern). This would only be possible if those venues continue to get upgrades to increase capacity.
With the NRL expanding, I think the AFL need to be bold and implement an expansion plan that takes thecompetition to the next level in terms of fan engagement, revenue, national exposure etc. No model is perfect, but if the end game was a 24 team, 24 round comp with 4 conferences and 5 weeks of finals then I think that’s a far better model than what we currently have. I also believe that it would be more exciting than a 19 or 23 round season with every team playing each other once, because there is more for teams to achieve and celebrate in addition to the premiership, which supporters of certain clubs may only see their team win once in their lifetime - if at all.
 

Bjo187

Team Captain
Apr 30, 2020
394
514
AFL Club
Essendon
The discussion about conferences in this thread has got me thinking about how they could be used to improve the AFL season structure and also facilitate expansion. I believe that after the inclusion of team 20, conferences should be strongly considered. With 20 teams, some clubs will be experiencing seriously long premiership droughts. Even in Euro soccer leagues with 20 clubs; in addition to the title race, there are the battles for promotion/relegation, Champions/Europa league positions etc, which keep the fans of most teams engaged throughout the season.

The MLB and the NFL celebrate American and National League/Conference champions before those teams compete in the World Series or Super Bowl. A time to acknowledge conference champions in AFL could be after the H&A season and before the finals. Some might argue that a successful H&A season is only half the job done, which is true, although the Premiership race will only become harder with more teams competing. Therefore, a conference system could provide high performing teams (who don’t quite get it done in finals) a chance to achieve something each season. For example, a team like St Kilda from the late 2000’s didn’t win a flag, but might manage to win a few conference championships during their window.

Over time, Conference championships could become meaningful to clubs and their supporters; especially if structured geographically to promote rivalries. As previously mentioned, there’s no way of making the comp entirely fair when 50% of teams come from one state, but a conference system can help create a fixture that’s less random so it’s an improvement on the current 18 club-22 round season.

I’ve had a play around with models involving 4 and 5 conferences that could be utilised (with expansion) to turn the AFL into more of a national competition. Personally, I think a 4 conference model would work better for the AFL because it provides a fairer geographical split and allows for an easier expansion towards 24 teams at a later date. The main downside of the model below is that it involves the co-location of a Vic club to make it work. This would probably be unacceptable for the supporters of that club; although if you look at it logically, 5 or 6 Vic home games + access to Vic away games equals 11 or 12, which is not that bad when you consider it’s the same amount of home games that a non-Victorian club membership currently offers.

Co-location was suggested as a viable option in the Carter report in relation to Tasmania. I don’t think Tassie is the right market for that, but the NT could be due it being a smaller market and the extreme weather they have at certain times of the year. If a Vic club was going to pursue a co-location then it would likely be one of the smaller clubs (e.g. St Kilda, North, Melbourne or the Bulldogs).

4 Conference Model:

AFL Competition by 2030

20 Teams, 4 conferences, 23 Rounds, 11 home games and a magic round at the MCG (like the NRL do). Play teams in your conference twice and all other teams once.

Expansion:
  1. Tasmania Devils
  2. Canberra-Murray Rams or Tridents
  3. Northern Saints / Kangaroos / Demons / Bulldogs (co-location between Melbourne and Darwin).
All 3 clubs get access to their own academy zones.

Western Conference
  • WCE, Fremantle, Adelaide, Port Adelaide, Northern Saints / Roos / Demons / Bulldogs (Darwin 5/6, Melbourne 5/6 home games + members get access to away games in Vic).
Eastern Conference
  • Sydney, GWS, Brisbane, Gold Coast, Canberra-Murray (Canberra 8, Albury 3).
South-West Conference (SW Vic)
  • Geelong, Western Bulldogs, Essendon, Carlton, Melbourne.
South-East Conference (SE Vic + Tas)
  • Collingwood, Richmond, Hawthorn, St Kilda, Tasmania (Hobart 5/6 and Launceston 5/6).

AFL competition by 2050

24 teams, 4 conferences, 24 Rounds. Play a rival from your conference twice and all other teams once.

Expansion - staggered entry of teams, not possible to do all at once:
  1. WA3 (Dingoes/Pirates) added to Western Conference.
  2. North Sydney Wales (wearing state colours and playing out of North Sydney Oval) added to Eastern Conference.
  3. Queensland Crocs added to Eastern Conference (like the NT club, having dual bases would be advantageous at certain times of the year when there’s extreme weather in FNQ).
  4. New Zealand added to South-East Conference.
  5. Canberra-Murray moved to South-West Conference.
Western Conference
  • WCE, Fremantle, Adelaide, Port Adelaide, Northern Saints / Kangaroos / Demons / Bulldogs, WA3.
Eastern Conference
  • Sydney, GWS, Brisbane, Gold Coast, North Sydney Wales (N Syd 8, Newcastle 4), Queensland Crocs (Cairns 5, Sunny Coast 5, Townsville 2).
South-West Conference
  • Melbourne, Geelong, Western Bulldogs, Essendon, Carlton, Canberra-Murray.
South-East Conference
  • Collingwood, Richmond, Tasmania, Hawthorn, St Kilda, New Zealand (Auckland 8, Wellington 2, Christchurch 2).

Finals Series (used from 20 clubs onwards) - 10 teams over 5 Weeks.
  • Top 4 = conference winners. Play qualifying finals.
  • Best 2 records in the league = host qualifying finals.
  • Best 2 runners up in the league = host elimination finals.
  • Remaining 4 best records from any conference = wildcard round for 7/8th finals spot.
  • Pre-finals bye for best 6 teams during WC Round.
  • Usual top 8 system in finals weeks 2-5.
  • Make the comp more national by sharing the GF around the best grounds in each conference so in a 4 year period it looks like: 1. MCG (South-West), 2. Ade Oval/Optus (Western), 3. MCG (South-East), 4. SCG/Gabba (Eastern). This would only be possible if those venues continue to get upgrades to increase capacity.
With the NRL expanding, I think the AFL need to be bold and implement an expansion plan that takes thecompetition to the next level in terms of fan engagement, revenue, national exposure etc. No model is perfect, but if the end game was a 24 team, 24 round comp with 4 conferences and 5 weeks of finals then I think that’s a far better model than what we currently have. I also believe that it would be more exciting than a 19 or 23 round season with every team playing each other once, because there is more for teams to achieve and celebrate in addition to the premiership, which supporters of certain clubs may only see their team win once in their lifetime - if at all.
I do agree with a lot of your ideas. Well put together and a good proposal. The reason being the further that the competition expands the more teams that just sit in the bottom part of the ladder with nothing to play for for a long time each season. There has to be some carrot other than finishing number one once every 50 years if that.
 

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