Morningside, Labrador and the NT Thunder will be part of a new-look Australia-wide knockout competition, to be conducted throughout the 2011 AFL season and shown nationally on pay television.

Wednesday, 9 February, 2011

Reigning QAFL premiers Morningside and 2010 beaten grand finalists Labrador will be part of a new-look Australia-wide knockout competition, to be conducted throughout the 2011 AFL season and shown nationally on pay television.

So, too, will the NT Thunder, who will fly the Northern Territory flag in what will be known as the Foxtel Cup.

The three clubs from the newly-formed North-East Australian Football League will join 13 other State League-based clubs from State Leagues in SA, WA, Victoria, Tasmania, Sydney and ACT.

Other participating teams in 2011 will be WAFL clubs Swan Districts, Claremont and East Perth, West Adelaide, North Adelaide and Port Adelaide Magpies from the SANFL, North Ballarat, Williamstown and the Northern Bullants from the VFL, Tasmanian club Clarence, Canberra-based Ainslie and the Sydney-based East Coast Eagles.

Also, the Greater Western Sydney Giants will participate in the first year of the new competition before joining the AFL in 2012.

From 2012 onwards, the six qualifying teams from NSW, the ACT, NT and Queensland will be determined from the newly formed NEAFL.

Participating teams from SA, Tasmania, WA and Victoria would continue to be determined by the finishing order in each respective state league, and those clubs that accepted the invitation to play.

The 2011 Foxtel Cup will run from Saturday 26 March, which is the first round of the 2011 AFL premiership, through to the Foxtel Cup grand final on Saturday 6 August.

All matches will be played on Saturday afternoons – some as curtain-raisers to AFL matches – and will be shown on Foxsports between the network’s regular AFL broadcasts on Saturday afternoon and Saturday night.

Morningside and the NT Thunder will kick off the competition in Round 1 at the Gabba at 4.05pm on 26 March, ahead of the Brisbane Lions season-opener against the Fremantle Dockers.

Labrador will host North Adelaide in the last of the Round 1 matches at the Gabba at 4.45pm on Saturday 21 May ahead of the Lions’ clash with North Melbourne.

The winner of the Morningside – NT game will play again on 28 May against the winner of the Round 1 match between East Perth and the Northern Bullants, while Labrador face a potential Round 2 clash with the East Coast Eagles or the Port Adelaide Magpies on 18 June.

A second win by Morningside or NT would pitch them into a semi-final of the knockout competition at Gold Coast Stadium on 9 July, while two Labrador wins will see them play a semi-final a week later at Etihad Stadium.

 AFL General Manager National and International Development David Matthews said invitations to participating teams within each League were based on ladder position and the availability of the club to compete in the inaugural year of new state based knock-out competition.
He said matches would consist of four quarters each eighteen (18) minutes set time, plus time-on from the last three minutes only (20 minutes approximately total per quarter), to ensure they did not overly impact on club commitments to their on-going state league season.

Also, this will enable games to fit into a two-hour broadcast window.

“From 2011, our traditional state-league clubs in each league that have built our game’s strength through more than a century of the development of Australia’s only indigenous game, will be able to pit themselves against other state-league players, with four victories required in a straight knock-out contest to claim the title,” Matthews said.
“The introduction of the Foxtel Cup further strengthens the AFL’s commitment to supporting the elite State Leagues’ competitions and community football in all states and territories and providing further opportunities for emerging stars or state-league player greats.”
Matthews said he wanted to thank both Fox Sports and Foxtel for their support, in bringing the Foxtel Cup to fruition after the idea germinated through the 2010 year.
“The proposal for a knock out championship for state leagues was presented as a draft proposal to our various state bodies at a meeting in Melbourne in September last year, with the strong support of Fox Sports as our broadcast partner, and the warm reception it received provided the impetus for much work to be able to put it in place for the 2011 season.
“Each of our senior state competitions in South Australia, Western Australia and Victoria boasts more than a century of competition with great clubs who remain vibrant parts of their communities, while our game has continued to grow in new regions,” he said.
Fox Sports General Manager Melbourne, Rod Law said: “Fox Sports is excited to be involved in this joint venture with the AFL.  We are a great supporter of the AFL and this year we are looking forward to extending our commitment to the game at the elite state league level.”

“The introduction of the Foxtel Cup will complement our current Saturday AFL line up with the matches scheduled to be broadcast in between our afternoon and evening live coverage.”
Matthews said the partnership with Fox Sports and major sponsor Foxtel would provide valuable exposure for state league clubs and their playing standards, as well as enabling players with aspirations to play at AFL level to showcase their talents. In 2010, the likes of Michael Barlow (Fremantle from Werribee) and James Podsiadly (Geelong Cats from Geelong VFL) were able to make an immediate impact at AFL-level, coming from state league football.

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