Expansion Proposals for a Truly National AFL

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kranger

All Australian
Nov 30, 2006
622
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Kalamunda
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Fremantle
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Swan District
21 team comp -
current 18 teams,
plus Tasmania,
plus Canberra,
plus Darwin.

22 round season -
play everyone once,
10 home games,
10 away games,
2 byes.

42 byes are split as follows -
Rnds 1->5 — 1 team has a bye, 10 games
Rnds 7->16 — 1 team has a bye, 10 games
Rnds 18->22 — 1 team has a bye, 10 games
(20 byes)

Rnd 6 — 11 teams have a bye who also have a bye after Rnd 11, 5 games
Rnd 17 — 11 teams have a bye who also have a bye before Rnd 12, 5 games
(22 byes)

1 team will have a bye in both Rnd 6 and Rnd 11, and not have a stand alone bye.


A variety of Melbourne based teams sell home games to the remaining markets without a team (this is the greatest benefit of Melbourne being saturated with so many teams, so games can be sold to locations that will never be home to a team, especially if the game features a ‘local state team to help grow their exposure as well):

Newcastle; where the away team is Swans or Giants;
Wollongong; where the away team is Swans or Giants
Cairns; where the away team is Lions or Suns;
Townsville; where the away team is Lions or Suns;
Alice Springs; where the away team is Darwin;
 

Coolangatta

Premiership Player
Oct 27, 2007
4,511
3,793
Western Australia
AFL Club
Brisbane Lions
21 team comp -
current 18 teams,
plus Tasmania,
plus Canberra,
plus Darwin.

22 round season -
play everyone once,
10 home games,
10 away games,
2 byes.

42 byes are split as follows -
Rnds 1->5 — 1 team has a bye, 10 games
Rnds 7->16 — 1 team has a bye, 10 games
Rnds 18->22 — 1 team has a bye, 10 games
(20 byes)

Rnd 6 — 11 teams have a bye who also have a bye after Rnd 11, 5 games
Rnd 17 — 11 teams have a bye who also have a bye before Rnd 12, 5 games
(22 byes)

1 team will have a bye in both Rnd 6 and Rnd 11, and not have a stand alone bye.


A variety of Melbourne based teams sell home games to the remaining markets without a team (this is the greatest benefit of Melbourne being saturated with so many teams, so games can be sold to locations that will never be home to a team, especially if the game features a ‘local state team to help grow their exposure as well):

Newcastle; where the away team is Swans or Giants;
Wollongong; where the away team is Swans or Giants
Cairns; where the away team is Lions or Suns;
Townsville; where the away team is Lions or Suns;
Alice Springs; where the away team is Darwin;
Superb.

I'd add Albury, Ballarat, and Bendigo to that mix. Maybe one day they can play games in regional WA with the Eagles or Dockers as the away team, too.
 

Canberra Pear

Team Captain
Nov 26, 2016
554
670
Canberra, ACT
AFL Club
Port Adelaide
21 team comp -
current 18 teams,
plus Tasmania,
plus Canberra,
plus Darwin.

22 round season -
play everyone once,
10 home games,
10 away games,
2 byes.

42 byes are split as follows -
Rnds 1->5 — 1 team has a bye, 10 games
Rnds 7->16 — 1 team has a bye, 10 games
Rnds 18->22 — 1 team has a bye, 10 games
(20 byes)

Rnd 6 — 11 teams have a bye who also have a bye after Rnd 11, 5 games
Rnd 17 — 11 teams have a bye who also have a bye before Rnd 12, 5 games
(22 byes)

1 team will have a bye in both Rnd 6 and Rnd 11, and not have a stand alone bye.


A variety of Melbourne based teams sell home games to the remaining markets without a team (this is the greatest benefit of Melbourne being saturated with so many teams, so games can be sold to locations that will never be home to a team, especially if the game features a ‘local state team to help grow their exposure as well):

Newcastle; where the away team is Swans or Giants;
Wollongong; where the away team is Swans or Giants
Cairns; where the away team is Lions or Suns;
Townsville; where the away team is Lions or Suns;
Alice Springs; where the away team is Darwin;

I'd opt for the NT team to play the games in Alice.

Unless Darwin's population absolutely explodes, nine games should be enough and will help keep the averages up.

I think it'd likely have NT as the name, or Northern something, rather than Darwin. Social benefits are a big part of their push, and I think that'll encompass the whole region.
 

Coolangatta

Premiership Player
Oct 27, 2007
4,511
3,793
Western Australia
AFL Club
Brisbane Lions
I'd opt for the NT team to play the games in Alice.

Unless Darwin's population absolutely explodes, nine games should be enough and will help keep the averages up.

I think it'd likely have NT as the name, or Northern something, rather than Darwin. Social benefits are a big part of their push, and I think that'll encompass the whole region.
Yeah, Alice can get a game during Darwin's wet season, maybe even two games.

I'd like to see regional WA, Albury, and Bendigo added to the secondary markets.

Otherwise I love the proposal, and probably keep the top 8.
 

Coolangatta

Premiership Player
Oct 27, 2007
4,511
3,793
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Canberra Roos.

If you say it fast it even sounds like Kangaroos.
I'd rather Canberra have their own team and North stay in Melbourne, but this wouldn't be as bad as North moving to Tassie as Canberra isn't really crying out for their own team, and they have some transient population, and North is an inoffensive team. And the name has a ring to it, as you've said.

And if NT can't ever do it on their own (enough population and economic growth isn't a guarantee), then you could have a NT/NQLD team instead.

You get 20 teams and it'll calm people down about anything more than 20 teams breaking the game (which I don't agree with).
 

The Passenger

Hasa Diga Eebowai
Mar 25, 2003
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This thread offered way more laughs ten pages back when a Dublin based AFL team was going to generate $10M in revenue every year.

Expansion will happen in the AFL. We are increasing at a rate of roughly 2 teams per decade and it's starting to look like the next team is going to be based in Tasmania and more than likely a 20th licence will be given out soon after.

The AFL may (I stress may) look at a promotion/relegation system once the number of teams gets into the mid 20's (which is a few decades off) but they'd need to do a lot of research to determine how badly support would drop off for relegated teams. What is more likely is they'll introduce a conference system, resulting in a Superbowl style game to determine a winner each season - IMO a dynamic conference system would be better than a fixed conference system which we see in US sporting leagues, but this is a call for many years down the track.

What isn't going to happen, at least not in any of our lifetimes:
  • A system with roughly 50 professional clubs, many based in rural areas trying to climb the ladder.
  • Aforementioned rural areas getting a team set up and bankrolled by a local billionaire to the tune of $10M (probably $20M in 2050 money). My favourite suggestion was a mining magnate from Broken Hill happy to spend some money to get a Mildura team up and about because it's just a few hours drive down the road. If (and this is a big if) this mining magnate was to spend $10M of his cash for a community, it's going to be in his local Broken Hill community - not the mob down the road. It doesn't seem like the OP is overly familiar with the dynamics of the relationship most country towns have with each other.
  • The AFL and the clubs upending the current power structure to accommodate all these new professional teams in this sort of structure.
  • Find any broadcaster willing to pay a significant amount of $$ for the rights to the 30th/40th/50th best team in the country. At best you might get a broadcaster to show some games for free so they've got content and those clubs down the lower end of the pyramid have exposure.
  • Find any amount of meaningful supporters willing to fork out a few hundred dollars for membership on a team in division three or four.
  • FInding enough revenue from anywhere else to keep teams afloat in a third or fourth division (essentially around the 30th to 50th biggest clubs in the land) whilst incurring the enormous costs of sending them around this country. The examples of lower division teams in the English Football League being able to do this needs to be seen in the context of the country and these clubs - for the most part - get trains and buses to their away games.
  • Seeing gun teenagers deciding to stay and play for their local division three (or four) team in the hope they might get them up to the big leagues. The idea of Clayton Oliver, Jonathon Brown (or equivalent) staying with his local team till he is 21 or 22 is just fanciful - he's either going to have to give up a huge pay cheque or put his team in a position where they are spending about 10% of their supposed $10M revenue (an amount they're not going to hit anyway)... and if he does that he'll be giving up some prime development years he could be getting in the top division.


You can't not admire the enthusiasm of the OP but when reality takes over you just aren't going to be able to find the revenue to travel all these teams around the country. Geography, population size and minimal overseas support (which are a very important source of revenue for the big soccer clubs) are just too much of a hindrance.
 

Coolangatta

Premiership Player
Oct 27, 2007
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What is more likely is they'll introduce a conference system, resulting in a Superbowl style game to determine a winner each season - IMO a dynamic conference system would be better than a fixed conference system which we see in US sporting leagues, but this is a call for many years down the track.
Depends on what you mean by dynamic. So if you had 2x12 teams, you’d still have some fixed formula, surely, like keeping non Victorian teams from the same state together to maximise revenue and minimise travel. The question is, if you have 5 Victorian teams in each conference, would you keep the big teams together or split the four minnow clubs into two teams per conference?

Essentially, do you have a big club league and a small club league in the hopes that smaller clubs grow by getting more exposure to finals games against each other in their conference?
 

The Passenger

Hasa Diga Eebowai
Mar 25, 2003
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Depends on what you mean by dynamic. So if you had 2x12 teams, you’d still have some fixed formula, surely, like keeping non Victorian teams from the same state together to maximise revenue and minimise travel. The question is, if you have 5 Victorian teams in each conference, would you keep the big teams together or split the four minnow clubs into two teams per conference?

Essentially, do you have a big club league and a small club league in the hopes that smaller clubs grow by getting more exposure to finals games against each other in their conference?
Yep, non-Victorian teams from the same state would be in the same conference each year, whilst the Victorian teams would essentially pair off in a similar fashion. Each conference would have five Victorian teams with two coming from Carlton/Collingwood/Essendon/Richomnd, one from Hawthorn/Geelong, two from Saints/North/Bulldogs/Demons and the other five finding themselves in the other conference. That's assuming the clubs are still in similar positions revenue generation-wise than they are now by the time this is even something to think about.

One year the WA teams might be in the same conference as the SA teams and then the next year find themselves with the Qld and NSW teams.

Of course, this wouldn't be viable till there are at least 24 teams and another genuine option would be to play 23 games, playing each other once - 11 home, 11 away, and 1 neutral game.

And then we'd also need to factor in where the five clubs after (assumedly) Tasmania gets the 19th licence are located.

I don't really like the idea of the same conferences year in and year out. Whilst the divisional system works well in the US to build rivalries I think Australian sports culture would find it getting pretty stale pretty quickly.
 

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Coolangatta

Premiership Player
Oct 27, 2007
4,511
3,793
Western Australia
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Brisbane Lions
Yep, non-Victorian teams from the same state would be in the same conference each year, whilst the Victorian teams would essentially pair off in a similar fashion. Each conference would have five Victorian teams with two coming from Carlton/Collingwood/Essendon/Richomnd, one from Hawthorn/Geelong, two from Saints/North/Bulldogs/Demons and the other five finding themselves in the other conference. That's assuming the clubs are still in similar positions revenue generation-wise than they are now by the time this is even something to think about.

One year the WA teams might be in the same conference as the SA teams and then the next year find themselves with the Qld and NSW teams.

Of course, this wouldn't be viable till there are at least 24 teams and another genuine option would be to play 23 games, playing each other once - 11 home, 11 away, and 1 neutral game.

And then we'd also need to factor in where the five clubs after (assumedly) Tasmania gets the 19th licence are located.

I don't really like the idea of the same conferences year in and year out. Whilst the divisional system works well in the US to build rivalries I think Australian sports culture would find it getting pretty stale pretty quickly.
Well, I’d have Tassie and ACT as the next two. Teams 21-24 would come from NSW, QLD, WA, NT or SA, but NSW and QLD might miss out on team three altogether if those markets don’t show the growth needed. Ditto NT. I wouldn’t expand to 25, someone would miss out most likely. The 11h, 11a, 1n fixture is a good idea for 24 teams.
 

The Passenger

Hasa Diga Eebowai
Mar 25, 2003
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Well, I’d have Tassie and ACT as the next two. Teams 21-24 would come from NSW, QLD, WA, NT or SA, but NSW and QLD might miss out on team three altogether if those markets don’t show the growth needed. Ditto NT. I wouldn’t expand to 25, someone would miss out most likely. The 11h, 11a, 1n fixture is a good idea for 24 teams.
Despite clearly being footy states, a third team in WA and SA might struggle for support as pretty much everyone in those states already has a team. One of the key pillars of growth in GC and GWS was the ability to pick up new fans to the sport.

From the footballing public in those states, what would their target support be:
  • 2% who watch the AFL but don't support a team (at least not with any passion)
  • 2% who support one of the existing four teams that jump ship
  • 2% who support one of the 16 interstate teams that jump ship

Even that feels optimistic and that best-case scenario would leave them with the support of only 6% of the state's football followers.

Long term they might be able to organically some supporters from kids who don't want to support the same team as their parents but that's going to be a slow, slow burn. They'd be starting from a long way back in comparison to the existing clubs from WA and SA.
 

Coolangatta

Premiership Player
Oct 27, 2007
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3,793
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Despite clearly being footy states, a third team in WA and SA might struggle for support as pretty much everyone in those states already has a team. One of the key pillars of growth in GC and GWS was the ability to pick up new fans to the sport.

From the footballing public in those states, what would their target support be:
  • 2% who watch the AFL but don't support a team (at least not with any passion)
  • 2% who support one of the existing four teams that jump ship
  • 2% who support one of the 16 interstate teams that jump ship

Even that feels optimistic and that best-case scenario would leave them with the support of only 6% of the state's football followers.

Long term they might be able to organically some supporters from kids who don't want to support the same team as their parents but that's going to be a slow, slow burn. They'd be starting from a long way back in comparison to the existing clubs from WA and SA.
How about QLD and NSW? Will there ever be a team in Nth QLD or Newcastle? It doesn’t seem likely.

That leaves us with Tassie and Canberra. So it’s either going to stay at 20 teams or expand to 22 if (and it’s a big if) the NT ever get up. Unless the AFL would be fine with an uneven number of teams.
 

The Passenger

Hasa Diga Eebowai
Mar 25, 2003
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How about QLD and NSW? Will there ever be a team in Nth QLD or Newcastle? It doesn’t seem likely.

That leaves us with Tassie and Canberra. So it’s either going to stay at 20 teams or expand to 22 if (and it’s a big if) the NT ever get up. Unless the AFL would be fine with an uneven number of teams.
I think you're right that it will be a Canberra/Riverina team after Tassie.

Newcastle is rugby league through and through.

Cairns has a vibrant Aussie Rules community but it would be a long time before it could sustain an AFL team. They're passionate up that way but it's still rugby league territory. That being said it will be another 10-15 years after this lot of expansion (which hasn't even started) till the next one - I would be surprised if that's enough time unless the AFL was going to take a GWS/GC style punt.

I can't see a combined North Qld / NT team making it - it's gotta be one or the other, with Cairns the most likely. If you try to combine the two areas into one larger geographical to make up for the population shortfall I think the locals would see straight through that and feel like they are being shortchanged. It's one thing doing that for underage representative football, but not in a professional environment. All this being said, I'd be surprised if any of us see a North Queensland or Northern Territory based team in the AFL, as much as that would be a pretty cool thing to happen.

From the perspective of where are the most followers of the sport, third teams for SA and WA are the most logical as the 21st and 22nd teams but whenever that happens to take place (I imagine sometime between 2035 and 2040) you're still going to run into the problem of how to extract support from an area where the overwhelming majority of football fans have put down their flags of support.
 

Canberra Pear

Team Captain
Nov 26, 2016
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I think you're right that it will be a Canberra/Riverina team after Tassie.

Newcastle is rugby league through and through.

Cairns has a vibrant Aussie Rules community but it would be a long time before it could sustain an AFL team. They're passionate up that way but it's still rugby league territory. That being said it will be another 10-15 years after this lot of expansion (which hasn't even started) till the next one - I would be surprised if that's enough time unless the AFL was going to take a GWS/GC style punt.

I can't see a combined North Qld / NT team making it - it's gotta be one or the other, with Cairns the most likely. If you try to combine the two areas into one larger geographical to make up for the population shortfall I think the locals would see straight through that and feel like they are being shortchanged. It's one thing doing that for underage representative football, but not in a professional environment. All this being said, I'd be surprised if any of us see a North Queensland or Northern Territory based team in the AFL, as much as that would be a pretty cool thing to happen.

From the perspective of where are the most followers of the sport, third teams for SA and WA are the most logical as the 21st and 22nd teams but whenever that happens to take place (I imagine sometime between 2035 and 2040) you're still going to run into the problem of how to extract support from an area where the overwhelming majority of football fans have put down their flags of support.

I think by the time we get to the 21/22 expansion round, NZ will be on the cards.

Auckland will have 2.5m people by 2050. A team could be based there and play a couple of games in Wellington and Christchurch, which will each have about 600k by then.
 

Canberra Pear

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Nov 26, 2016
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Does anyone in NZ even kick a footy around?

Did anyone in Western Sydney before GWS?

Pre-pandemic, there were about 30,000 registered participants in NZ, I think mostly in Kiwikick (their Auskick). They've got adult leagues in Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch and Otago. They've also got boys' and girls' development teams that travel to Australia (I think they play a joint Mornington Peninsula side).

It's not huge, but it's a decent base. Who knows how that'll go in the next 20-30 years.
 

Moonatic77

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Did anyone in Western Sydney before GWS?

Pre-pandemic, there were about 30,000 registered participants in NZ, I think mostly in Kiwikick (their Auskick). They've got adult leagues in Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch and Otago. They've also got boys' and girls' development teams that travel to Australia (I think they play a joint Mornington Peninsula side).

It's not huge, but it's a decent base. Who knows how that'll go in the next 20-30 years.
Would have thought NRL would have dwarfed the interest of AFL in NZ. I guess years down the track the AFL could expand the comp to NZ, but then again, I like that it's a uniquely Aussie game
 

Canberra Pear

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Nov 26, 2016
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Would have thought NRL would have dwarfed the interest of AFL in NZ. I guess years down the track the AFL could expand the comp to NZ, but then again, I like that it's a uniquely Aussie game

The NRL absolutely dwarfs the AFL in NZ, but Auckland's a big city with surprisingly few professional teams. Plenty of room for AFL.

I've played/watched footy in four other countries and there's something pretty cool about seeing other cultures intertwined with Aussie Rules.

Also, fun fact: Only one country has Aussie Rules as its national sport and it's not Australia (it's Nauru).
 

The Passenger

Hasa Diga Eebowai
Mar 25, 2003
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If it’s so difficult to predict who the 21st team and beyond will be, are we even certain that there will be?
It will definitely happen. It's just a matter of how long it takes to stabilise each round of expansion. The AFL took a pretty big punt on GCS and GWS, which I reckon is one of the thing that makes Tasmania's bid for #19 quite attractive. They'll never be a financial powerhouse, but they should be up and running from day one and overall a fairly low risk proposition.

I'd be surprised if the AFL has much appetite to move into a small footy market with high growth potential like cairns any time in the 2020s, whilst they are still heavily funding two equivalent regions.

I'd predict we'd be looking at 2035-40 for team 21 and 22. It won't happen before then, and it could be a decade or even more beyond those years. But it will definitely happen unless Australia's population starts platueing, which seems highly unlikely over the next few decades.
 

madmug

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It will definitely happen. It's just a matter of how long it takes to stabilise each round of expansion. The AFL took a pretty big punt on GCS and GWS, which I reckon is one of the thing that makes Tasmania's bid for #19 quite attractive. They'll never be a financial powerhouse, but they should be up and running from day one and overall a fairly low risk proposition.

I'd be surprised if the AFL has much appetite to move into a small footy market with high growth potential like cairns any time in the 2020s, whilst they are still heavily funding two equivalent regions.

I'd predict we'd be looking at 2035-40 for team 21 and 22. It won't happen before then, and it could be a decade or even more beyond those years. But it will definitely happen unless Australia's population starts platueing, which seems highly unlikely over the next few decades.

Given the self interests of some clubs, a 19th team, no matter how secure it appears, is no certainty. We'll soon find out.

The AFL has expanded quite quickly after its initial years.

Organisations which go on a growth strategy without shoring up their 'home territory', or really understanding their new territory can get into strife. Starbucks here is a classic example marketing a crappy product . The NBL has had some rough periods with a litany of club failures, even including Sydney & Brisbane.

So expansion has risks.

It's clear the AFL are running on arrogance & are hamstrung by the VFL legacy. That's at least 4 clubs racking up the bills.

Long term Support for new clubs in new areas is one thing. Its arguable if they'll get any or much reward for their $multi-millions expedition to the unknown. Generational change is a concept & is not guaranteed, cost & debt is a certainty.

I would say the TasTeam will have a level of surety & support to keep them viable. At least as viable as anyone else.

The/my Reason being that this is a Footy state, not foreign territory. Yes it'll have to gain community trust after the VFL/AFL behaviour here over both the long & short terms.

The NBL team had no problems rebuilding the love for that sport. The State Government, both major parties, see it as an arm of tourism. Having positive social benefits of inclusion in the national game. TV exposure of the State. AND, its the only team we'll ever have. They won't want to lose their equity & investment so will push, promote & rebuild the game here.

A new stadium should not be a deal breaker, unless the AFL are back stabbing again. It may well happen at some stage but NO ONE could expect to invest $500mil unless they had guaranteed tenants & time for nation finances & the economy to get through the still uncertain times. UTas will get some sort of make over anyway, maybe Bellerive if a new stadium seen to be a thing for the medium to longer term.

So putting the horse before the cart is NOT the way to go. Lining things up properly is the only way to gain success.
 

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