STATE league football on the eastern seaboard will look vastly different in 2021 after a landmark announcement by the AFL today has seen the North Eastern Australian Football League (NEAFL) dissolved, with the NEAFL sides invited to join the Victorian Football League (VFL) next season. The choice to merge the two competitions was phrased as a “year of transition”.
Each club will have its own choice whether to form a standalone club, join an exiting club or split their AFL listed players over multiple clubs – like North Melbourne has in the past – including the non-AFL aligned clubs in Aspley Hornets, Canberra Demons, Redland Bombers, Southport Sharks and Sydney University.
Draft age to remain at 18. VFL to become a mega-league w/AFL clubs given the choice to field own Reserves, align with an existing club or spread players across multiple clubs. The VFLW model still under review. NAB Leagues to remain separate but shift up to U17s & U19s. https://t.co/EGp4ttyctm
— Jason Bennett (@JasonBennettTV) August 24, 2020
The NAB League Boys and Girls will also look vastly different as it is set to become Under-19 and Under-17 competitions over the current Under-18 and Under-16 leagues. While the age groups will change, the AFL Draft eligible age – a hotly talked about topic – will not, as it remains at 18 in the calendar year of the AFL Draft.
With the VFL and NEAFL clubs aligning, it means the Northern Academy teams – Brisbane Lions, Gold Coast Suns, GWS GIANTS and Sydney Swans – will be able to compete in the NAB League as they have in past years. The fixturing for the competition and exactly how it will be structured is yet to be determined.
No changes have been made to the South Australian National Football League (SANFL) or West Australian Football League (WAFL) competitions.