The debate among Australian Football League teams over stand-alone reserves teams in local competitions has been reignited by reports that some Victorian clubs are asking for their own reserves competition.
The West Coast Eagles and Fremantle Dockers have been pushing for their own stand-alone reserves teams in the WA Football League since mid-2011 but the recent bid by Victorian teams has highlighted the impact on state leagues.
AFL Media Relations Manager Patrick Keane said the AFL could not decide the model under which state leagues operated.
“The AFL’s view on the position for Western Australia and South Australia is that it really has to be a discussion for football in that state on what works best,” Mr Keane said.
WA Football Commission Media Manager Steve Tuohey said the WAFL clubs were working with the Eagles and Dockers to resolve the issue, but there had been no timeframe set or concrete plan put in place.
“We are going through a process with the AFL clubs and identifying the key objectives of each side,” Mr Tuohey said.
“It’s a very important issue and we understand the reasons behind the AFL clubs wanting reserves sides.”
‘In’ and ‘Out’ models are being looked at.
The ‘In’ model would integrate Eagles and Dockers reserves teams into the regular WAFL competition.
The ‘Out’ model would see reserves teams playing matches in WAFL rounds where regular sides had a bye.
“The next step is forming a committee that will be looking to resolve the issue with the best interests of the AFL and the WAFL in mind,” Mr Tuohey said.
Swan Districts Chief Executive Officer Tom Bottrell said the club was happy to negotiate with the Eagles and Dockers.
Mr Bottrell said it was important to work with the AFL clubs, because players on their lists needed to be managed appropriately.
“We are happy with how the competition is going at the moment but we will work with the AFL clubs to find the best outcome for both sides,” he said.
East Fremantle Football Operations Manager Damian Gaspar said the WAFL had been on the rise for the past 15 years and the club was only interested in the well-being of the competition.
“There is a positive image of the WAFL in the community at the moment due to quality of football being high,” Mr Gaspar said.
“We want the WAFL to remain as it is but if the competition can be improved we are open to ideas.
This story was written and produced by the team at Western Independent.