THE WAFL has broken with tradition and endorsed a West Coast reserves team for next season.
For the past five years, the Eagles missing AFL selection have played at East Perth in an at times difficult partnership, but the Royals board scrapped the alignment model in July.
West Coast has long desired its own standalone team in the state competition and on Wednesday night the WAFL Council of Presidents unanimously endorsed the move for 2019.
"This solution is paramount to the development of our young players who are not selected in the senior side," Eagles CEO Trevor Nisbett said.
"Having those players learning their craft in the same team, playing to the same game-plan is essential and we are grateful for the support of the WAFL clubs.
"While we enjoyed the alignment with East Perth, despite some challenges, it was always our preference to have a standalone team in the WAFL.
"We now have that opportunity and we will work with the WA Football Commission and the WAFL clubs to ensure this arrangement works for everyone.
"We will now begin to build our list, including top-up players, within the perimeters agreed upon, so that we are ready to compete in 2019."
The agreement will improve the financial return to WAFL clubs, with West Coast paying a one-off $90,000 sign-on fee – to be shared equally among the other nine clubs – and making an annual $800,000 investment in the competition.
West Coast's reserves will eradicate some byes in the new 10-team competition.
Each team will play each other twice over 21 rounds and the Eagles will play all games at their opponents' home ground next season.
"This decision represents a significant milestone in the history of the WAFL, with the WAFL clubs embracing the opportunities this will create for the clubs and competition," CEO Gavin Taylor said.
"Having a competitive West Coast Eagles team in a quality state league competition is equally as important for the development of AFL-listed players as it is for the financial sustainability of our WAFL clubs and presents an exciting opportunity to enhance the competition.
"This significant investment by West Coast demonstrates the value of the WAFL competition for developing talented players and will only further strengthen its status as Australia’s premier state league competition.
"We are very conscious of balancing the needs of all parties to maintain the integrity of the WAFL competition while also supporting the success of our AFL clubs.
"An important component to the West Coast Eagles' licence will be their list build, recruiting and player payment conditions, which will be further developed by a joint working party by the end of October 2018."
While Fremantle will continue its alignment with Peel, the Dockers haven't ruled out applying for their own standalone team in future.