CK's AFL Reserves Debate

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CK's AFL Reserves Debate Empty CK's AFL Reserves Debate

Post by Admin on Fri Jun 21, 2013 3:45 pm


It is quickly becoming one of the most emotive and divisive issues that has faced the SANFL since the entry of the Adelaide Crows in 1990. Whether the two AFL clubs should be allowed to field teams in the SANFL competition from 2014 onwards. What does seem a simple decision either way has plenty of pros and cons attached to it, and plenty of compelling reasons for both schools of thought.

In a two part Sportsbeat series, I will assess exactly why the SANFL should NOT allow the entries and then – why the SANFL SHOULD allow the entries, and then allow you, the readers, to look over both arguments and send us your thoughts to us on the issue.

This week, why AFL clubs should NOT be allowed to field teams in the senior competition. Fielding teams in the SANFL reserves is, for the moment, a separate issue:

1) The integrity of the SANFL will be heavily compromised: One of the primary reasons both AFL clubs are strongly pushing to be allowed to play in the SANFL, is that it will allow their players to all work to the same game plan/tactics, as they will see at AFL level. As much as anything, this will mean that players may be played out of position, or in roles that are about experimenting with flexibility for the player, rather than to genuinely win the match. What incentive, therefore, is there for the likes of Central District coach Roy Laird, to prepare his side to take a game completely seriously and risk his best 21 players for a match for which the result is not the primary factor for one of the competing teams? Will games involving either AFL team become largely meaningless?
2) Games will become lopsided, and not in favour of the AFL clubs: There seems some type of notion that Port, for example, would field an SANFL team including the likes of Travis Boak, Hamish Hartlett and Alipate Carlile. Many of the players that will compete at SANFL level, however, are the likes of Ben Newton, Aaron Young and Brendon AhChee, many of whom have spent time in the reserves this year. AFL squads comprise 44 players in total. 22 of these are required on match day, including up to three emergencies, so we are already down to 19 players. If, say, six of these are injured and unavailable for selection, then there are 13 AFL listed player available for a team needed 21 players, meaning eight more players must be sourced. They may be underage players, or in an extreme example, SAAFL or country footballers. Will these players form a lineup that will be competitive against hardened SANFL players?
3) Who will actually attend the matches. In order to make the matches financially viable, at least 2500 fans will need to attend to ensure at least a breakeven point in terms of covering costs of match days. Since the entries of both Adelaide in 1991 and Port Adelaide in 1997, attendances have slowly declined. Given point 2 above, regarding the most likely players in the matches, where is any evidence to suggest that fans will suddenly turn up to watch players that have already been at that level for some time?
4) Will any short term financial benefit for the clubs, in terms of dividing revenue from the licence sales between the nine clubs, be sustainable long term?  Looking at Sturt last week, they fielded seven Adelaide Crows players in their lineup against the Eagles. If Adelaide withdrew those seven players for their own team, then Sturt now has to pay for seven league standard replacement players, just to maintain equal competitiveness in 2014. If, for example, the mooted figure of $150,000 for the first year for their share of licence fee revenue was paid to Sturt, much of that would be swallowed up in player payments immediately, leaving Sturt at largely the same position they held before.
NEXT WEEK: Why the SANFL should admit the two AFL clubs to league level.

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