Brisbane are among four AFL clubs vying to enter teams in the VFL from next year as the axe looms on their second-tier competition.
Since 2011, the Lions, Gold Coast, Sydney Swans and GWS have had reserves sides in the NEAFL, which involved playing some Queensland and NSW state-league teams, as well as the NT Thunder.
But Brisbane chief executive Greg Swann confirmed the NEAFL is unlikely to return in 2021, leaving four of the AFL’s 18 clubs scrambling to find match practice for players outside their best 22.
“At the moment, the NEAFL doesn’t look like it’s going to come back,” Swann told Fox Footy.
“All the northern state clubs need somewhere to play so we’ve been pushing to perhaps join with the VFL, or an AFL reserves, or an eastern-seaboard AFL reserves.
“If 10 teams in Melbourne run a comp then us four would probably join it, or that’s what we’ve been pushing to do.”
Swann conceded organising an expanded VFL would be difficult, particularly in the wake of the AFL’s coronavirus downturn, which has financially crippled the industry.
But he believes there are left-field options to make it viable.
“There is a comp, but it’s more about getting games into the players who aren’t playing,” Swann said.
“If we had to play the Suns four times to reduce costs, and GWS played Sydney four times, then no one has a real problem with that.”
A fully-fledged AFL reserves competition is unlikely due to the opposition of South Australian and Western Australian clubs.
Adelaide and Port Adelaide are happy with their own teams in the SANFL, as are West Coast after entering a reserves side in the WAFL for the first time last year.
Fremantle’s footballers play with Peel Thunder in the WAFL.
Eight of the 10 Victorian-based clubs fielded their own VFL teams last year, but Carlton have since cut ties with the Northern Blues as a result of the financial implications of COVID-19.