The bidding process for a women’s team licence in the AFL’s women’s competition is officially open. The AFL sent a discussion paper to clubs on Monday night and interested parties have until April 29 to put their cases forward.
There are five areas in which clubs must prove their suitability:
Governance and administration; business development; football operations; strategic relevance; and broader commitment to women’s football, including career pathways for women.
While the league, at least in the first year, will fund player payments and match operations costs – including flights and accommodation – clubs who have developed their own corporate support plans will be at an advantage.
General Manager Game and Market Development, Simon Lethlean, briefed the AFL commission last week and put a number of recommendations on the table:
- The inaugural season will be made up of eight teams – four in Victoria and one each in News South Wales, Queensland, South Australia and Western Australia. Players from the Northern Territory will be aligned to South Australia, while players from Canberra and Tasmania will be aligned to New South Wales.
- The season will be six to eight weeks long, running through February and March 2017. The season will consist of a mixture of stand-alone games, NAB Challenge curtain raisers and closers, plus some matches integrated into the start of the AFL season.
- According to Lethlean, broadcasters are on standby to cover games with at least one live televised match each round.
- Teams lists will consist of 25 players and teams will have the opportunity to sign two ‘marquee’ players and pre-sign a further five. The remaining 18 players will be selected from state-based drafts.
The concept behind the marquee and pre-signed players is to ensure an even spread of talent across the country. The process of signing players is still to be finalised, however the AFL confirmed;
“The proposed model would allow for clubs to sign players from anywhere but with strict rules and regulations.”
With wealthier clubs at an assumed advantage to lure talent interstate, the AFL was quick to confirm that player payments would come strictly from the League.
“Yes (payments will come from the AFL), however we don’t have a formal position on salary cap and we will start working on this in consultation with the AFLPA.”
The AFLPA established a women’s football working group several months ago and it has been reported that playing contracts for the inaugural season will be 12 months in length.
The AFL has also engaged a PhD student to study aspects such as ball movement in women’s football to help the League determine if any rule adjustments are needed such as reduced player numbers and shorter quarters.
Simon Lethlean told afl.com.au “We will be mindful of the heat at that time of year, but we’re not going to trick it up. We want it to be sustainable.”
*Photos: Quinn Rooney - Getty Images