Relegation not ruled out for 2017

Updated: February 11, 2016


AFL Barwon has refused to rule out demoting a poorly performing GFL club to the BFL in 2017 despite promotion-relegation not being slated for introduction until 2018 at the earliest.

Both restructure scenarios presented to the regions 34 clubs last night left the door open for the GFL and BFL to feature 11 teams in 2017.


In Option One, as part of what has been labelled “the repositioning phase”, the AFL Barwon Commission will base it’s decision on the following assessment;

“Has the club failed to meet the minimum criteria for their current division of competition?”.

Under Option Two;

“Has the club failed to meet the minimum criteria for their current division of competition?”


“Did the club finish last or second last on the premiership ladder in the senior football competition?”

AFL Barwon boss Lee Hartman says the preferred option is for the status quo to remain in 2017, but wouldn’t rule out the GFL and BFL both containing 11 teams.

“At the end of the day, we want to get to the end goal, as per our presentation, but make sure clubs can actually survive and be competitive,” he said.

“If that’s what it takes for one year, we would look at that if any club is still getting belted on the field.”

There is also the option for a poorly performing BFL club to find itself in the GDFL next year.

“The AFL Barwon Commission have the ability to make any movement or speak to the stakeholders about those movements,” Hartman said.

“It would be very unlikely that any movement would happen before the proposals in the presentation.”

With a proposal fourth division set to feature just six teams if based on 34 clubs in the region, AFL Barwon is keen to see new senior clubs formed.

“Surf Coast Suns start juniors this year, so by the time promotion-relegation is up and running they may have a senior club there,” Hartman said.

“It won’t be long before Armstrong Creek have clubs running.

“It’s just how quick they can get to seniors is probably the question.

“But at least now we have a structure where those new clubs can fit in.”

Hartman says they wouldn’t rule out clubs from outside the current structure joining the new set-up.

“No one’s indicated it, but it’s definitely a discussion we need to have,” he said.

“There’s some issues in the Colac and District league. Obviously a club (Forrest) has gone into recess.

“We want to make sure, if possible, they can come back, so a fourth division may suit that club.

“The GDFL, over time, has been approached by clubs out of the western (suburbs) region as well.”

However, Hartman admits there are concerns about the viability of some current clubs.

“I think the criteria document will be a great document for them to read and understand, and get our (AFL Victoria) development managers in to help them,” he said.

“Our development guys are already in there trying to work with them strategically, but now they actually have it in print where they need to improve if they’re down in some areas.

“Definitely, we know not every club’s at the same level across all three leagues – there’s powerful clubs and clubs that are struggling.”

Twitter: @tom_king79