Why the AFL needs a reserves competition. Now.

If the AFL are keen for equalisation, the time has come to take the next step. An AFL reserves competition is a must. In fact, it should have been done years ago.

Adelaide and Port Adelaide cannot continue to play in the SANFL. It is ruining both premiership chances and the SANFL competition itself. Crowds are confused and clubs are frustrated. Change is needed and soon.

The AFL should not be focusing on a women’s competition in 2017. There I said it. That might not be a popular opinion, but I worry there isn’t enough talent to supply the supposed eight-ten teams in this new venture. There are better ways money can be spent by both the clubs and the AFL. For now anyway.

Instead, the AFL should be setting up a reserves competition where both the Crows and Power seconds, as well as reserve teams from the other sixteen clubs can play. No more aligning with a VFL or WAFL club. This would be a massive change for these competitions, but if well thought out can be achieved without completely killing certain clubs. I mean it’s not like change hasn’t occurred before. It can be done.

The games can be played before the main event, giving fans the opportunity to get into the ground to see two games for the price of one. And yes, they can finish early enough for AFL clubs to be able to warm up on the ground!

This co-orindation of the teams would have several major benefits. Every week when the AFL team play, the reserves team also plays. Staff who have to attend both matches would be at the one ground to do their job and there would be no ‘clash’ games. Chad Cornes would be a potential beneficiary of this. As a runner for Port Adelaide, he also coaches the reserves team. If there was ever a clash, he would have to give one of these roles up. Three weeks ago Adelaide played Gold Coast on the Gold Coast at the exact time Adelaide played Central District in the SANFL. Farcical.

Additionally, Adelaide has had three SANFL byes in the past six or seven weeks robbing players of vital game time and disrupting the season dramatically. I’d almost suggest the SANFL have done this as a ploy to annoy the AFL teams. We all know very few SANFL clubs want the AFL clubs there, despite voting otherwise a couple of years ago.

I attend SANFL games every week and can tell you that the abuse Crows and Magpie supporters and players get from the established SANFL clubs fan base is bordering on unacceptable. The AFL clubs have stolen supporters from the SANFL and confused other fans. If you are a Norwood supporter and a Crows fan for example, who do you barrack for at a Norwood v Adelaide game?

Some would argue that without the AFL reserves teams, the SANFL will completely die. Who would go and watch their AFL club, their AFL reserves club and their SANFL club in one weekend. Sure, some people will not, but given the behaviour I’ve seen from SANFL fans when their team plays an AFL reserves team, I’d say there will be enough. The crowds are not booming now. Perhaps with a equal SANFL that is not compromised, some of these disgruntled fans will come back.

The day is coming where Adelaide or Port Adelaide will win the SANFL premiership. I fear that will be the day the SANFL completely ceases to be taken seriously. And fair enough too. You can’t have AFL listed players in one team playing non-AFL listed ones in another, fighting for the same prize. It is simply not fair. No wonder fans are angry.

If the AFL are serious about simplicity and fairness, a reserves set-up is a must. Allow the SANFL to go back to an eight team competition with a supporter base that can barrack without issue. And allow the AFL clubs an even playing field to win a premiership flag. Win-win.

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