All that is likely to be true.I guess with fewer teams in the comp there would be:
- A smaller group of players and thus the average level of AFL footballers would be higher.
- the average attendance for games in Melbourne would be higher as would the attendances for the VFL as I would think too, as you’d get a significant minority of footy fans from asforementioned merged clubs jump away from the AFL and pick up clubs like Port Melbourne etc, plus the standard of players in the VFL would be higher with fewer AFL roster spots available
Nevertheless, as Stefan Szymański said in his 2005 ‘Tilting the Playing Field: Why a Sports League Planner Would Choose Less, not More, Competitive Balance’, fewer games each week and less consistent wins by popular clubs would reduce attendance (and no doubt in the unique AFL environment reduce television viewership even more).
It would also make the AFL less dominant in the sport of football than it has wanted to be.
In fact, when the league decided to replace Waverley in the middle 1990s the administration had already realised what Szymański demonstrated a full decade before ‘Tilting the Playing Field’ was published. This being that the league as a whole can gain greatest profit by keeping as many poorly-supported Melbourne clubs as possible, as their presence allows the greatest TV viewership when they provide “fodder” for the well-supported clubs to win and generate the maximum possible television viewership and attendance.
The problem of increasing attendance and TV viewership had plagued the league ever since the road lobby’s political dictatorship over transport policy made attending games impracticable for an increasing proportion of Victoria’s population in new suburbs with zero weekend public transport. Attendances declined alarmingly between 1982 and 1986: the then-VFL was in severe danger of being supplanted by basketball, whilst the VFA entered terminal decline as attending games became less practical and Asian immigrants replaced former Association supporters. Docklands, by making the game much more suitable for TV, was the only practicable solution.
Retaining all the Melbourne clubs – except the weakly-supported “basket case” of Fitzroy who would without the late 1960s expansions of zoning never have survived (at all events in Melbourne) beyond the middle 1970s – when the early 1990s press expected only six or seven to remain by 2010 also provided extra TV viewers.
Even with Carlton as powerful as they were, and the other “power clubs” of the 1990s – Geelong, Essendon, North Melbourne and West Coast – in top form, a 1995 Richmond with Lockett and Richardson would have been very formidable indeed. More than that, as long as Lockett played Richmond would have possessed a forward line to rival North Melbourne and Footscray, and would not have slumped as they did between 1996 and 1999. Even if a Tiger outfit with Lockett and Richardson together could not defeat the 1995 Blues, they would have had a good chance to win one of the next four flags for Tony.What if Tony Lockett came to Richmond in 1995 and Richo didn't do his knee, Richmond premiers 95? granted I'm not sure if Richmond had enough strength in the midfield and back line but that forward line would have been very hard to stop.