The VFL is officially dead and Carlton will field it’s first stand-alone reserves side for in 19 years in a new-look 22 team second tier competition to launch in 2021.
The AFL confirmed on Thursday that teams will play in the yet-to-be-named competition for the eastern seaboard, with clubs to be based in New South Wales, Queensland and Victoria.
Of the 14 eastern seaboard AFL clubs, 11 will field standlone reserves teams with all the existing VFL clubs to be integrated in to the new competition.
St Kilda, Melbourne and Hawthorn will maintain their alignment with current VFL clubs.
The salary cap will be set at $200,000 for stand-alone clubs and $100,000 for AFL and aligned clubs and the AFL will subsidise all approved travel for interstate matches.
The Blues will have their own reserves side for the first time since 2002, after spending recent years aligned with the Northern Bullants, who will also be part of the competition.
Carlton Head of Football Brad Lloyd said a stand-alone reserves side was a massive boost for the club’s player development.
“We’ve spoken about the exciting talent we believe we have on our playing list and it is crucial we have a development pathway that gives us every opportunity to maximise that talent,” Lloyd said.
“A stand-alone VFL side is a big step forward in that regard. We will have complete oversight in regard to our reserve players on a game day, which will only further allow us to enhance their development during the week.
“Another benefit in combining our AFL and VFL program is that we will be able to streamline our resources in the football department. A financial reality to come out this year was a reduction in the football department soft cap across the AFL.
“While this has presented its challenges, we believe bringing our VFL program in-house will ensure we continue to enhance our player development pathway, which will ultimately lead to improved on-field performance at the elite level.”
Queensland clubs Southport and Aspley will come in to the competition along with reigning VFL premiers Port Melbourne, after the competition was abandoned din 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the re-born Northern Bullants.
Confirmed licences for the VFL and East Coast Second-Tier Competition:
Stand-alone Second-Tier Clubs: Aspley, Coburg, Frankston, Northern Bullants, Port Melbourne, Southport, Werribee, Williamstown
Stand-alone AFL Clubs: Brisbane Lions, Carlton, Collingwood, Essendon, Footscray, Geelong Cats, Gold Coast SUNS, GWS GIANTS, North Melbourne, Richmond, Sydney Swans
Aligned Clubs: Sandringham, Box Hill Hawks, Casey Demons