Top End team counted out of WAFL next year
6th September 2007, 6:30 WST
An Alice Springs-based team won’t join the WAFL competition next year, but the radical concept has not been abandoned by Northern Territory football officials.
And the success of the Top End’s bid to get a WAFL playing licence in 2009 will depend on the NTAFL proving the venture can inject about $1 million directly into the local league system.
That might not be a problem.
Earlier this week, the Federal Opposition made an election promise of $2.5 million over five years to partly fund the establishment of a State league team in the Territory. A similar announcement from the Federal Government was expected within days.
The NTAFL also has offers totalling nearly $1 million from mining companies and Melbourne businessman Richard Pratt.
Despite the financial support, NT and WA football officials have agreed the original aim to have the Alice Springs team competing in next year’s WAFL season was not feasible.
However, the NTAFL and WA Football Commission have discussed the inclusion of a Top End team in the 2008 WAFL pre-season series and playing three “trial” matches in April against local teams that have the scheduled bye.
The trial fixtures would be staged in the NT and Perth to identify some of the teething problems for the proposed team should it join the league in 2009.
Local clubs remain sceptical about the expansion concept.
While the NTAFL has conceded it would have to meet the costs of travel for both its team and visiting opponents, most WAFL clubs believe the Top End should also pay a type of entry fee
, similar to that provided by West Coast when they joined the then-VFL in 1987, to help them cover associated expenses.
Clubs have suggested the payment could be in the form of an annual licence fee, increased sponsorship, new grants or facility fund donations.
WAFL officials also want a guarantee the NT will field a team in the competition for at least five years
— meaning the Top End committee would be looking at an initial investment of more than $10 million.
“The feedback from clubs is there has to be a benefit for the WA footy system,” WAFC football director Grant Dorrington said. “There is a belief that there is an opportunity cost associated with this idea because there will be costs for our clubs.
“It is a business deal or like a franchise. We have a 123-year-old quality, high-profile product and there is a price to be part of that.”
The NTAFL has had talks with South Australian football officials about joining the SANFL. But it is believed the Top End committee favours the WAFL.
Oh god don't be surprised if we lose the NT team to SA, based on conservative stupidity. The amount of conditions that the WAFL are putting up is crazy.
Would love to have my bye next year facilitated by a game against Alice Springs