The SANFL: Where do we go from here?

I was inspired to write this after attending the excellent 140 years of SANFL footy exhibit at the State Library recently. There’s been a lot of angst recently about the SANFL, its place in the sporting landscape and even questioning its very existence. In this piece, I attempt to make a case for keeping the old girl around.

 

Psychologists have long speculated that the reason people watch football, is that it provides a safe emotional release. The amount of emotion we experience when our team wins/ loses /plays well or otherwise is very disproportionate to the actual impact that it will have on our lives… Football makes it safe to strongly like or dislike things / people (i.e. teams), even without a really rational reason, and generally no consequence. I can’t say why I love Norwood exactly, why the sight of red and blue together just looks beautiful to me  and why in the week after a good win I can be found humming “It’s a grand old flag” in my mind as I move about the office. But I’m pretty sure it has something to do with my childhood memories as an 8 year old boy standing on the terraces with my father and uncle watching Norwood and learning how to hang out with them as adults doing and saying adult things like using “Stadium language” i.e. don’t you let your mother hear you say that at home!

 

Football is a rite of passage not only for the players but the spectators. I graduated over the course of my years at the Parade from standing behind the goal umpire and waiting for the perfect moment after a goal had been kicked to yell out “Umpire, how big’s your d**k?” so that the signal for goal looked like his answer to learning the finer points of football tactics over a coke for me and beer for the old man talking at the pub after the game. It was a golden era when the local bakeries had SANFL promotions for their pies and the local league footballers were Gods who walked amongst us (mostly because they all needed jobs to make ends meet on the money a semi-pro League footballer made!)

 

So if we accept that football is an intrinsic part of Australian culture, surely we have to address the elephant in the room, that being that the AFL has elevated the game to fully professional status, a game that is faster, slicker and shinier with more hype than our SANFL? This brings me to trains. Electric trains exist (in Adelaide only on the Seaford line for the moment, but eventually the whole metropolitan network will be electrified and people will be whizzing around at much higher speeds than ever before to get to their destination). Private cars can reach upwards of 100 kph and often do, so why do steam trains still exist? Historical lines like the Pichi Richi Railway and Steam Ranger still appear to have a place in our lives even if it is a  smaller place than before. If I channel my inner Dr Julius Sumner-Miller, I ask “Why is it so?”

 

Perhaps not everybody wants to go as quickly as they can? Perhaps some people are looking for an emotional connection/ experience rather than just a quick and efficient journey? There’s no denying that AFL football when it’s played well is very quick and very impressive to watch, but with all the rule tinkering and natural coaching evolutions to take advantage of fully professional footballer/athletes, I think something of the magic of our great game has been lost. 18 super human professional athletes have replaced the 18 good, honest, everyday blokes who used to fight it out for suburban glory. This on top of the large sums of money earned by footballers has placed a gap between them and us. The AFL is a fully professional industry now; the almighty dollar guides the majority of their decisions. A more complex development of the humble community game we all grew up with. The SANFL is a tangible link to this simpler era. This nostalgia and yearning for the past is a commodity and it’s something the SANFL can and should use to differentiate itself in the crowded sporting marketplace.

 

We must do all that we can to maintain this link, because rising ticket prices and Salary cap increases will only further grow the gap between AFL football and the everyday person in the street. I propose we double down on being an old established league with bucketloads of heritage that is confident in its own skin and doesn’t feel the need to go toe to toe with the AFL behemoth.

 

So if we are to put our line in the sand and say “This is what SANFL football is and this is what it offers” we must go forward being true to the heritage of the League and demonstrate to those looking for their nostalgia fix that what we offer is the genuine article, not the kiddy-friendly modernised updated version of the SANFL. We must accept that we can’t stay true to the heritage of the league and also move with the times to be hip and cool and appeal to the next generation. If we try to be hip and cool and move with the times we will be competing with the AFL and their larger budgets and slick marketing will eventually doom our league to the dustbin of history. Besides, time and again we have seen that what is hip and cool now will be replaced seemingly overnight by the next hip and cool thing. I hope that our appeal will come from parents exposing their children to the game when they realise what value for money it is compared to the AFL ‘product’ I hope that ridding the league of its current sense of decay will generate positive impressions for younger attendees. To do this we need to:

  1. Remove the AFL reserves teams from the comp
    • Mixing fully professional athletes who are understandably focused on their AFL career with the semi-pro SANFL footballers hopelessly compromises the sense of a fair Competition. Whatever the AFL are paying the SANFL in cash terms surely cannot be worth the negative effect on the sense of even competition that is ruined by the presence of AFL reserves teams in the comp.  Adelaide’s 2  AFL clubs told fanciful tales of bringing 3-4000 fans along to their SANFL games to watch those on the brink playing for a go in their respective AFL first team and the SANFL clubs fell for what we can now clearly see was a supreme  con job.
  2. Return to the S.A.N.F.L branding rather than the pathetic sounding “Sann-full” branding.
    • We grew up calling it the SANFL, pronouncing all of the letters in the acronym. It was only ignorant Victorians who would call it the SANfull. Now the head office wants everybody to do it? Ludicrous. We are who we are we should embrace it.
    • Publish a media guide requesting that all references to the League follow the protocol of pronouncing all of the letters in the title.
  3. Remove standardised pre-match entertainment from local footy. Instruct individual clubs to poll their audience for what is desired in a local football experience. If they don’t want loud music played over the loudspeakers prior to the bounce down, don’t force them to.
  4. Focus the SANFL marketing budget on the experience of the day rather than trying to compete with the slick media machine of the AFL. Yes, we’re old fashioned, but try it, you might like it. At $14 per adult ticket compared to the $50-70 for a GA adult ticket to the AFL (Crows).
    • Promote the heck out of the fact that children u/18 are free entry, meaning a standard nuclear Family can get an afternoons entertainment for under $50 (2 adults + children).
  5. Preserve the history of the SANFL making it easy to access for new attendees. Some people might be surprised to find that football existed in Adelaide prior to 1991.
    • The recent exhibition celebrating 140 years of SANFL footy at the State Library is a great example of this. Once it is finished it it should as much as possible kept on permanent.

 

The SANFL has tradition in spades. It has clubs that have been in existence since the 1870s. We have some of the oldest ‘football’ clubs in the world here in Adelaide. Celtic in Scotland were founded in 1888. Sheffield Wednesday in 1867. Norwood were founded in 1878. The SANFL offers a fun experience unlike the sanitised AFL ‘product’ on offer. At SANFL games, you will see fans from both competing teams occupying adjacent real estate on old style footy grounds with terraces. This is how footy should be experienced, with barracking for both teams and fans learning to co-exist with competing viewpoints as opposition fans respond to any outlandish claims made by the barrackers regarding the events on display.  The AFL by its very nature of being Melbourne-centric doesn’t have this in Adelaide. Adelaide’s two AFL teams sell loads of season tickets so that in any one game, you’d be lucky to even see more than a handful of opposition fans, if you can even get a ticket without enduring a couple of years on a wait list. Any banter is likely to be in one direction only. Either putting down the opposition, the umpires, or castigating whichever player is doomed to wear the scapegoat tag for his team that day. The popularity of the AFL means you can’t just decide at the last minute to go to a game. At SANFL level, if the weather is to your liking and a fixture grabs your attention, you can load up the family and get along for a footy experience.

 

My 5-point plan has both simple and complex tasks, but I feel it is at the very least a plan for preserving this very important part of South Australian culture. It’s not perfect but we mustn’t let the perfect get in the way of the very good. With the collective passion of the thousands of SANFL footy fans, we can surely get our old girl looking healthy again and ensure this great cultural link is around for the next generation to experience.

 

Comments

  1. Dave Brown says:

    I admire your passion, Kasey (and correct choice of footy team) and welcome aboard the Footy Almanac as a writer. I attend most Norwood matches and have purchased the live streaming pass so I can watch the matches I can’t get to. Naming aside (and agree with AFL reserves point) I think the league has already moved down the path of differentiating its product – it is not in competition. I think the key is to develop a plan for sustainability of the clubs. We are not anywhere near there at the moment, particularly given pokies are the financial lifeblood of the SANFL clubs. I wish I had more solutions but I will continue to love going to the Parade.

  2. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says:

    Great stuff Kasey. In my own small way and from a distance, I’m doing my best to preserve those cherished SANFL memories, but whether nostalgia is enough to guarantee survival, that remains to be seen. I wish it were otherwise.

    Keep fighting the good fight and welcome to the Almanac.

  3. Bill Drodge says:

    Very emotive and we’ll written Kasey. Red and blue together is a beautiful sight!

    I like your plan……you had me convinced at no 1.

  4. Kasey
    Well Put!

    Can I use your story on Our Sporting Life SA with correct attributions to yourself and the Footy Almanac

    Is that ok with the Management JTH

    Cheers
    PLA phone number available if required!

  5. bring back the torp says:

    Good article- overall football culture is being diminished with the much lower profile of the once vibrant, proudly suburban, tribal SANL, WAFL, & TSL(& defunct VFA).

    On a per capita basis, crowds are SIGNIFICANTLY lower now than in the 70’s in Vic., SA, WA, & Tas.

    In 1965, the SANFL GF had a crowd of c.62,000, SANFL weekly crowds then averaging perhaps c.35,000 -but Adelaide’s pop. has risen about 65% by 2017. Adelaide AFL weekly match & SANFL weekly average combined crowds has certainly not kept pace with pop. growth.
    Similar SIGNIFICANT per capita crowd declines in WA & Vic.- Tas. crowds now a disaster.

    Totally agree about need to boot Crows & Power professional athletes from the SANFL -they are not fighting primarily for Premiership glory/,suburban pride/ win at all cost etc -just Reserves hit-out/ mickey mouse training run for their “parent clubs”. This will kill the SANFL.

    Is it feasible to play SANFL games at times not concurrent with Crows/Power games? Good night lights for TV & crowds? Would this increase interest, crowds, sponsorship etc? ( Similar to when the VFA was booming, about 25-30,000 pw in the 70’s-early 80’s; when the VFA had a monoply on Sunday games -VFL then only played Saturdays).

    More radical solution -play SANFL Oct.-late March, evening only games in summer, for “clean media air”? Feasible? Would suitable, large, enclosed grounds be available then (obviously not, if cricket played on them)?

    Create a” point of difference” for SANFL football game styles. Make them more exciting, high scoring etc than tackle-ball AFL games.
    eg eliminate interchange(only 2 subs.) There would be a more open, less congested, game. With the old “one-on-one”contests, more high scoring, full forwards being able to kick bags (due to open space being available to lead into). No one loves the big, crowded rolling mauls, & tackle-ball.
    eg. torp. goal kicked from outside 50 arc =2 goals.

    Could the SANFL & WAFL charge the AFL large clearance fees for players (cultivated locally, by local Clubs) recruited from their junior and/or senior comps. into the AFL? To recycle some of the AFL riches, & help the comps. the AFL is strangling.

    If the SANFL & WAFL don’t soon reverse their downward spiral, they will probably be dead within the next 10 -20 years -& more football culture lost forever. And the riches will continue to go to those in the “football industry” -players, army of coaches/assistant coaches/specialist coaches/ sport scientists/nutrionists/psychologists/AFL executives etc.

    More people now play soccer & basketball, by a big margin, than play football in Vic., SA, WA, & Tas. -& AFL neglect & greed is to blame. Football culture is being diluted, whilst AFL executives merrily pay themselves the exhorbitant ( For a Not-For -Profit organisation) total amount of $8,000,000 + pa. Companies in the private sector, with similar turnover to the AFL, don’t pay their executives such outlandish salaries.
    I suppose the flexible public admission charges (Dynamic Pricing, I think, is the spin word) used to gouge the public, for big H & A games, is necessary -so those in the “football industry”can be enriched.
    The grassroots, community clubs, and the average general admission AFL fan are being sacrificed.

    The sycophantic mainstream media will not highlight the AFL’s failings & greed. Noteable exceptions in Vic., Jeff Kennett, Tim Lane, Martin Flanagan. Professor Steven Alomes, RMIT, on blogs -see his articles on academic website:-

    https://theconversation.com/afl-must-change-ticketing-and-ugly-rules-that-drive-away-fans-26059?sa=pg1&sq=alomes@sr=2

  6. That’s fine PLA, as long as Kasey is OK with it.

  7. Simon whitelaw says:

    Excellent plan, great article. I am a lifetime Sturt supporter and passionate SANFL supporter. The sooner we get rid of the AFL reserve teams the better. They are a cancer consuming the life of this comp.

  8. I am along suffering south supporter and have seen the many changes over the years, I agree with the many comments about the SANFL . The game at state level is on its knees and if we don’t go back to a stand alone competition without the AFL reserves in it many clubs will be meaningless and dissolve .

  9. Malcolm Ashwood says:

    Well done Kasey I agree with most of your points I agree with Dave in that we have got a point of difference it’s the sustainability which is the massive problem.I am also in agreeance with bring back the torp the season needs to start earlier and try and get the jump and get a good share of the market like Afl women’s comp did when we are all desperate for footy ( a fraction of the publicity would be sensational) while re the name yeah I prefer,SANFL but I don’t think it has any real effect thank you
    Welcome to the almanac and go the legs

  10. PLA I am happy for this to be used on your program, the more publicity for footy almanac the better IMHO.

  11. Eric Weltner says:

    I will deal with your points one by one:

    1. It’s easy to say “remove the AFL teams from the comp” – but – now that the majority of SANFL clubs have opened the door to AFL reserves in the SANFL (including your beloved Norwood, Kasey … the club that made the biggest noise against AFL reserves but then backflipped quicker than a Russian gymnast when it came to the vote) – it is now extremely difficult to unscramble the egg. Unless there is an AFL reserves competition, and this doesn’t appear to be on the horizon, where do you suggest the Crows and Power reserves players go? Back to the previous system? I don’t think so. Maybe like some, you just don’t care, just so long as they are out of the SANFL? However … remember the SANFL is SIGNIFICANTLY funded by proceeds generated by SA’s two AFL clubs at Adelaide Oval … to the tune of millions of dollars per year. So, if you are going to submit a true plan … it needs to include “what happens to Power/Crows reserves players if AFL reserves are removed from the SANFL”. Although that question is theoretical only as IT WILL NOT HAPPEN, not in the short to medium term at least, as apparently there is a 15-year agreement in place. PS: You have also incorrectly stated “Adelaide’s 2 AFL clubs told fanciful tales of bringing 3-4000 fans along to their SANFL games”. UUUUH WRRRRONG! This was the Adelaide Football Club only. Not Port Adelaide. Remember, it was the Crows who pushed for AFL reserves in the SANFL. It was THEM (via Steven Trigg, remember?) that told the “fanciful tales” to try and force their way into the SANFL, not Port Adelaide (which was already in the SANFL and was reasonably content with the pre-2014 model).

    2. Really? This is an issue for you? The pronunciation of SANFL? How does correctly or incorrectly pronouncing SANFL lose or add one extra person to SANFL games? Worrying about publishing media guides regarding pronunciation will make a scrap of difference? Seriously?

    3. Removing standardised pre-match entertainment? Aren’t clubs able to provide the pre-match experience of their choice NOW? What’s stopping them doing this NOW? And you mention “loud music over the loudspeakers” … well this would be the club songs being played as the teams run out? Why would you want clubs to NOT play the club songs as their team runs out onto the ground? Surely this is what the majority of supporters would want anyway … and it already happens … so I really fail to see what your point is with this.

    4. I agree with this point … EXCEPT that you have FALSELY stated that a Crows GA ticket is “$50-$70”. Both Crows and Power GA tickets are actually around $35-$36 (plus a “transaction fee” of around $6 per transaction, which applies even to walk-up tickets at Adelaide Oval) – so a single-ticket General Admission purchase to both the Crows is just over $40. If more than one ticket was purchased in the transaction, this would effectively reduce slightly as the transaction fee is “per purchase” not per ticket. However when you compare a SEASON General Admission tickets to SANFL SEASON tickets … there is not much in it. A Port Adelaide adult GA season ticket is only $190 (roughly $17 per game, not that much more than single-ticket purchases to the SANFL). A Norwood adult GA season ticket (for 18 games) is $185, while a home-match ticket (for 10 games) is $140. Not THAT much in it really? However, I do agree with your point … “promote the heck out of the fact that children u/18 are free entry”.

    5. I also agree with this, but it is already being done.

    I agree with a LOT of the sentiments you have expressed in your article. The SANFL already provides an up-close-and-personal experience of tough and hard footy that the AFL can’t replicate. To a degree it is already set-apart a bit from the AFL. I agree with your point about the banter and having a good amount of opposition fans at games, not just dominated by “home team” supporters. I agree with “keeping the old girl around” and preserving the wonderful heritage of the SANFL.

    But to be honest Kasey, overall, I’m not really sure your “plan” has too many PRACTICAL aspects that provide any real benefits to the SANFL. Even Point 1 alone … it is arguable that the number of people currently boycotting the SANFL because of AFL reserves would even equal the number Port Adelaide supporters lost to the comp should the AFL reserves be removed (which won’t happen in the short to medium term in any case). I’m not sure that Points 2 to 5 offer much in the practical sense in regards to increasing SANFL crowds (or at least halting the decline).

    PS: What point were you trying to make with your “kiddy-friendly modernised updated version of the SANFL” comment? Are you against having family friendly areas? Do you want people to be allowed to spew out ANYTHING from the terraces without consequence? What actual practical changes do you advocate here?

    Overall, the SANFL was always going to be pushing it uphill once the AFL came to SA. Once the SANFL was no longer the No. 1 game in town any more, people were always going to gravitate to the biggest and best and the SANFL was always going to suffer. It’s an unavoidable consequence of the evolution of footy in this State. Youngsters are far less likely to grow up with an SANFL affiliation … and I do fear somewhat about what will happen to the comp once diehards like ourselves are gone. However, I still believe the SANFL provides a fantastic experience that is well worth attending (boycotting for whatever reason will only hasten its demise) … I will continue to do so regularly and invite others as often as I can to enjoy the unique experience of the SANFL … and hope that “the old girl” can survive through modern times.

  12. Eric you’re right and you’re wrong. My piece is firmly based in Emotional response to the perceived threat of the AFL to something I hold dear to my heart, the SANFL.

    Regarding your rebuttal, I went to the ticketek website to attempt to purchase a ticket for a Crows game to get my costings. A single GA seat to the Crows vs Bulldogs game on 7 July (single seats only are available..great for those who want to attend with a friend :-/ ) is going for between $32 and $42. Add your $6 booking fee you’re buying one seat for the cost of an entire family at an SANFL game! Regarding being anti-Family Friendly. I reject that barb. I am against the over-sanitisation of the footy experience. Sure it’s good to be able to take your kids along to the footy for less than $50 as I mentioned in my piece, but the Adult has to want to go and are they really going to enjoy themselves if they are being monitored by crowd Nazis berating them if they let out a stray curse word? The IGA family friendly zones are where those with delicate ears can go if they wish.
    As for the terminology SANFL vs Sannfull. Yes words are important. Think back to the last time you were hurt by someone. If it wasn’t the actions of the person that harmed you I’ll bet it was what they said to you that hurt the most. I feel like Sannfull is a cartoony gimmick and not the ‘proper’ name for a footy league. As the point I was making was that the SANFL should go all-in on promoting its heritage it should go back to its branding from the most popular era of the competition, not the modernised Sanfull terminology which I find grating to my ear and slightly demeaning if I’m honest. As the lawyer from the Castle put it: ”It’s the vibe your honour”
    My Piece was never intended as a viable action plan (I am not an administrator, merely a passionate Norwood fan, so this is more of a manifesto. I’m a traditional SANFL fan and my opinion matters. It would be nice if I felt as though the SANFL hierarchy respected my opinion and value my input. At the moment it feels like they don’t because of the way they run the league.

  13. Eric Weltner says:

    Thanks for your response Kasey. Firstly, my understanding is that General Admission at Adelaide Oval is not “reserved seating” in any case for both Port and the Crows (which has far fewer General Admission seating areas than Port). My belief is that you cannot purchase a General Admission “seat” as such … and that seated areas in GA are in a “first come, first served” basis. So you could technically sit with your mates at a Crows or Power game with GA tickets … IF you get there early enough to claim those seats. Or stand with them on the hill. And my further understanding is that the price is fixed (at $35 plus transaction fee) – so I am not sure where the $32-$42 variation comes from. But either way, I agree with you that it’s quite expensive, particularly when one can walk-up in Melbourne for $25 adult/$17 concession (with no “transaction fee” for walk-ups like there is at Adelaide Oval). HOWEVER … if you do want to purchase specific seating then you will be pillaged even further … with prices of up to around $100 per seat in premium areas! But this is dealing with walk-up tickets … remembering that I mentioned a Port Adelaide home-match General Admission season ticket, for 11 home games, is just $190 – approximately $17 per game. Norwood’s home-match season ticket for 10 home games is $140 … not much in it really?

    I too am against the over-sanitisation of the footy experience … however I don’t think the SANFL is currently “over sanitised”. Just a few minutes standing in the outer at Alberton (and other grounds too) will confirm that. The IGA Family Friendly zones are a great idea … people can go there in an attempt to avoid the coarse language, etc. that I hear nearly every week at most SANFL grounds …and I have no problem with authorities policing the Family Friendly areas. I’ve never seen “crowd Nazis” come up to anyone in the outer at Alberton, and some of those chaps get very fired up!

    Sorry but I still don’t get your “SANFL vs Sanfull” argument. Interesting that when I went to the SANFL History Centre for a tour during History Month, one of the key people there referred to “Sanfull” – and these are people that obviously hold the SANFL very dear to their hearts and volunteer a lot of their time to preserving its history. I just don’t see “the vibe” either way with this. I would think this issue would be very low on the list of importance for most.

    While I admire your passion and you make some good points too, your piece is certainly not a viable action plan (as the heading “Where Do We Go From Here?” may have suggested). You say it is important to have your opinion and input respected/valued by the SANFL. Well there are thousands of SANFL supporters, many with differing ideas and opinions than yours, that would say the same thing.

    And finally, you say you have a problem with the way the SANFL hierarchy runs the league … I dare say your biggest beef is AFL reserves in the SANFL? Well … the SANFL gave the clubs what the majority of them voted for. Remember when Norwood was initially the biggest voice against AFL reserves in the SANFL? What happened, Kasey? They backflipped at the last moment! A bit rich to blame the SANFL when YOUR OWN CLUB voted YES for it … against the wishes of many Norwood fans. Sounds to me that your own club’s hierarchy is not respecting the opinions and valuing the input of many of its supporters? A bit unfair to place it all on the SANFL hierarchy …

  14. Ben Footner says:

    I don’t say this to be inflammatory – but – “the SANFL is dead, long live the SANFL”.

    The SANFL will never be a viable competition again unfortunately. The hard core supporters will eventually pass on, and those of us who have grown up in the post AFL age will never find it engaging. I’d expect that the AFL machine will eventually consume all second tier competitions around the country. They might be able to hold out for a decade or so, but the day will come.

    I don’t like saying that. I wish I was around to experience the glory days of SANFL football, it sounds like it was an amazing competition. In hindsight I wish the AFL was formed by a more democratic process between the various state leagues, rather than in competition as it was.

    However what’s done is done, and unfortunately the war is now over. Like the American Civil War there’s still the odd group of veterans that likes to run up the Confederate flag, but realistically the new football nation has left them behind as a memory.

  15. Eric and Ben are both right. Kasey, you need to be very much aware that it was not Port Adelaide which promised 4,000 spectators. Eric is also right about the Norwood backflip, I seem to recall it had something to do with a salary cap investigation at the time? And Ben is right, it is slowly dying. I have had a home match ticket at Alberton for some years now and it is clearly evident that the old hard core supporter groups are dropping off. If you genuinely think removing Port Adelaide – a founding club – from the SANFL is a good idea, can I suggest you provide a guess as to crowd numbers into the future? Those people will not turn into Eagles or West supporters, they will either be lost completely, go solely to the AFL or follow a local Amateur League team. Yes I know they changed their name.

    But the demise of the SANFL is only another symptom of the wider lack of interest in the community for traditional clubs and activities. Look around, groups like garden clubs, car clubs, stamp collectors etc. are dropping off. People say they do not have the time, but more likely do not want to make the time. I think the SANFL should go back to the $10 admission cost they had about 4 years ago, for a start.

  16. Thanks for your passion, Kasey. And the thread has been an interesting read.

    I cannot comment specifically on SANFL or its issues, but as a life-long Williamstown (VFA/VFL) supporter, I can see many similarities between what the national competition has meant for the SANFL and the VFA/L.

    In my neck of the woods, I do wonder just what the future holds for the VFL which now consists of 3 types of clubs:
    Stand-alone clubs (e.g.: Williamstown, Port Melbourne, Werribee next season),
    Bonafide AFL reserves teams (e.g. Collingwood, Geelong, Footscray),
    AFL-aligned clubs (e.g. Sandringham, Casey, Northern Blues).
    How sustainable is it for the comp to continue in this fashion? Mmm. The Victorian AFL clubs would be quite happy to have their own little reserves comp and hang the rest. Port Melbourne, a club steeped in history and one of the bedrocks of the old VFA, have a massive debt – if they were to disappear like Frankston last season, the consequences of the AFL’s move into Sunday footy etc would have almost reached their end point.

    The current debate is about the future of the VFL reserves competition (a sort of U/23 comp known as the VFL Development League). I am watching on with interest.

  17. Peter_B says:

    The AFL has football “corporations”. The SANFL/WAFL/VFL have football “clubs”. AFL fans are customers and consumers. SANFL etc fans are participants.
    I only got back into WAFL footy a few years ago through a nephew at Swan Districts. It has been an eye opener. The engagement and connection for the young men in the league/reserves/colts is crucial social ‘glue’ in a fragmented society. It is inclusive of all stratas of the community, in a way that few other organisations truly are. Young men striving and supporting each other. Brilliant.
    Sitting in the stands you can talk and engage with other supporters/families, and we have made good friendships outside footy with several.
    Dunno exactly how to do it – but I think all the “marketability” ideas are largely window dressing. “Tax the rich” like taxing all the other mining corporations; Google; Betfair: Amazon etc who draw ridiculous amounts of untaxed profits out of Australia is the only way to go. In the same way that the Players Association has a profit sharing agreement with the AFL, there should be a formal agreement between the AFL and a peak body representing the state/community/feeder leagues. It should not be solely dependent on the noblesse oblige’ of the fat cats at the AFL board table.
    For the good of footy – and our community.

  18. Ben Footner says:

    I agree with you there Peter – the money has to come from the AFL.

    How will they do it? It won’t be by a nice regular donation for the good of footy, but by eventual hostile takeover.

    The SANFL & WAFL will eventually no longer be viable as stand alone organisations, and they will be bailed out and taken over by the AFL to be run in the same manner as the VFL and the leagues in NSW & Queensland.

    I wish it wasn’t so – but I reckon this is inevitable.

  19. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says:
  20. Ben Footner says:

    I bet the AFL has a contingency plan already locked away for when each league goes broke Swish.

  21. Rabid Dog says:

    Rucci shooting his mouth off in ‘Tiser today about why (despite protestations from many sources) the Corporates should stay in SANFL. God save the SANFL.

  22. Rabid Dog says:

    Bucko – look into the business interests of the (then) Norwood President – will give some guidance as to why they flipped.

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