AFL Queensland today advised that a North Queensland team will not be introduced into the restructured North East Football League (NEAFL) for season 2014.
CEO Michael Conlan said that while the organisation supported the concept of a North Queensland side, the timing was not right.
“We have just announced major changes to the NEAFL and South East Queensland leagues and our focus is on ensuring their success,” said Mr Conlan.
“While we believe in the long term viability of a North Queensland side our first priority is ensuring that our existing NEAFL teams will be competitive in the new competition.”
The new look NEAFL features a range of structural and organisational changes as part of the NEAFL’s long-term focus on increased competition standard and enhanced talent pathways.
As a result of these changes the NEAFL competition will comprise 14 clubs; four from the ACT: Ainslie, Belconnen, Eastlake, Queanbeyan; two from NSW: Hills Eagles, Sydney University; three from South East Queensland: Aspley, Redland, Southport; one from the Northern Territory: NT Thunder; four AFL Reserves teams: Sydney Swans, GWS GIANTS, Brisbane Lions and the Gold Coast SUNS.
Mr Conlan said there was still good news for North Queensland fans, who can expect to see a number of high profile AFL events in the region.
“We are currently in the process of negotiating a new partnership with Tourism and Events Queensland that will see the Gold Coast SUNS play a home-and-away match against an interstate AFL team in North Queensland and talks are also underway to bring a pre-season AFL match to the region,” he said.
“The highly successful NEAFL ANZAC Day clash between the Gold Coast SUNS and Brisbane Lions Reserves teams will be back in 2014 and we are also exploring the option of bringing additional NEAFL games to the region.”
North Queensland embraced AFL in record numbers in 2013 with over 8,000 fans turning out to watch the Gold Coast SUNS play the North Melbourne Roos in Townsville; 12,000 attending the Richmond Tigers vs Gold Coast SUNS match in Cairns and 4,000 through the gates of Mackay’s Harrup Park for the inaugural NEAFL ANZAC Day clash.