THE IMMEDIATE future for the VFL will again be discussed on Friday as the potential of what the competition might look like in 2021 and beyond bubbles away under the surface.
There is still no clarity on whether there will be a VFL season this year or what it would look like if it does go ahead but club representatives are meeting with the AFL on a weekly basis.
League headquarters has already ruled that AFL-listed footballers can't compete in any second-tier competitions in 2020 because of the strict COVID-19 medical protocols in place.
That's seen Port Adelaide, Adelaide and West Coast withdraw from any potential season this year in the SANFL and WAFL, respectively.
However, the standalone VFL clubs – Coburg, Frankston, Port Melbourne, Werribee and Williamstown – and those affiliated with an AFL team – Box Hill, Casey and Sandringham – are still keen to find a way to play.
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It's believed Werribee held a player vote this week around the circumstances of the season still being played, including on reduced pay.
Carlton ended its VFL alignment with the Northern Blues at the start of the COVID-19-inflicted crisis in late March.
There is a split in the competition between the standalone and affiliated VFL clubs and Collingwood, Essendon, Footscray Bulldogs, Geelong, North Melbourne and Richmond, which field their own reserves sides.
None of those AFL clubs are taking part – despite being invited – in the regular online meetings between the remaining VFL teams, which have worked together on a joint submission on the League's future.
It came about after the AFL's Head of Talent Pathways and State League Competitions, Tristan Salter, requested feedback from all second-tier clubs.
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The joint proposal, which is yet to receive an AFL response, was compiled with assumptions made on reduced AFL list sizes and the NAB League going from under-18s to an under-19 competition.
The idea, which has been raised in different forms previously, is to strengthen ties between VFL and NAB League clubs, whereby they would share operations staff rather than work separately.
It draws inspiration from the WAFL and SANFL structures, and would enable VFL teams to foster relationships with footballers from a younger age rather than only once they are overlooked in the draft.
There's been some concern about the impact fewer players on AFL lists would have on player development and this proposal is designed to remedy that potential problem.
The change would see clubs such as Frankston and Dandenong Stingrays, for example, and Port Melbourne and Oakleigh Chargers, effectively merge.
The vision is still in its infancy but there could even be the possibility of piggybacking on an AFL brand, possibly with new club names representative of the region or zone.
On the flipside, there is a push among AFL clubs for there to be a Victorian reserves competition next season that doesn't include the standalone VFL sides.
The AFL resisted that as recently as last year, preferring not to send the remaining clubs into basically a third-tier competition.
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The logic behind that is the vast differences in priorities, with the standalone VFL clubs hunting premierships, whereas the AFL teams are most interested in development.
Another alternative is for Brisbane, Gold Coast, Greater Western Sydney and Sydney to join other AFL clubs in an eastern seaboard development league.