ALL AFL Riverina clubs are still yet to reach the requirements to be part of the new 'Premier League' in 2023.
The decision on the number of teams to be admitted into AFL Riverina's top tier competition is yet to be made, but how well clubs meet the criteria could ultimately have the final say.
Clubs have been sent the criteria they need to meet to be considered for the new top flight league to be introduced following next year's season.
One of the more notable is the requirement to appoint a coaching coordinator who is Level 2 AFL Coach accredited. Other areas AFL Riverina has asked clubs to focus on implementing or improving are junior pathways, women's teams, and a measurable business plan.
However, teams who are not eligible for inclusion immediately will be given a chance to work on their issues, with the sides competing to be reviewed each year.
The new format, which will also include division one and division two 'community' competitions, was delayed by a season so clubs and officials could gauge the impacts of COVID on leagues.
"There's no set number (of teams) and it's criteria based," AFL NSW-ACT's community football manager for regional NSW and ACT, Marc Geppert said.
"There'll be some really good debate on who meets the criteria, and how many teams (are included). Because at the end of the day we need a good number of teams in the premier and community league to make them both sustainable and healthy."
A chance for clubs to be introduced into the Premier League at a later date, and the capacity for clubs to also fall back to the 'community' league, is designed to ensure clubs have incentives to improve their operations.
"The thing to remember is the premier league is an ongoing criteria. It's not 'you tick the boxes and you're in for life, it's a way of keeping clubs at a certain standard for a longer period of time'," Geppert said.
IN OTHER NEWS
"That's why we've designed the model the way it is, we know there's clubs out there that won't be able to compete at that level and can't grow any more than they have, based on geography and population bases.
"There might be clubs that are growing at the moment that don't quite meet that (Premier League) criteria, but in three or four years' time have got themselves to a higher standard and meet it.
"It's on an annual basis the criteria is reviewed, and the clubs competing. But it's designed to ensure clubs initially included in the Premier League don't get complacent."
Geppert said clubs are meeting the majority of criteria set, with only a handful to be addressed.
"Out of the 32 requirements from a minimum standards point of view, every footy club in AFL Riverina now is currently doing 27 of them," Geppert said.
"There's five pieces the club either need to put extra focus on, or start doing. Things like strong junior pathways and a development plan.
"Most clubs have juniors, but don't a clear plan on what their development is from juniors from seniors, or how the senior club interacts with the juniors.
Also high level of coaching. It's all within their capacity to deliver, them, but to meet that premier league standard we're asking for a little more attention on those five."
Under the requirements, teams must field two senior footballs teams, a junior side (under 17.5s or under-18s), a women's team and five senior netball sides.
A female youth league will also be introduced, but it isn't guaranteed to be in place for 2023.
Our journalists work hard to provide local, up-to-date news to the community. This is how you can continue to access our trusted content:
Sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.