Despite reassurances from AFL CEO Gillon McLachlan that all 18 clubs will survive the COVID-19 pandemic, there are still concerns about the long-term viability of having 18 teams.
Bulldogs president Peter Gordon stirred up everyone by suggesting it may be unsustainable and that the smaller clubs that require constant handouts may not survive as the game loses money.
The AFL is unlikely to part ways with the expansion clubs – Gold Coast and GWS – given the amount of effort that has gone into getting them up and running in the last 10 years.
So what would happen if in the next 10 years the AFL closes shop on two clubs that aren’t the Suns or Giants?
SEN’s Andy Maher and Bob Murphy discussed in detail the completely hypothetical scenario.
Maher believes the impact of such a decision would destroy a lot of people’s faith in the league and would see them turn away permanently.
“What if it comes to this? What if we get to a point in five years where we hit this wall and the AFL decides, okay St Kilda and Melbourne ta-ta, we want to keep going with Gold Coast and GWS,” Maher said on SEN’s Bob and Andy.
“We want a 16-team competition, that suits the fixturing a whole lot better.
“Try to imagine what would happen to the league and the bedrock. The people, fans and true-believers who have made this league, how does their affection for this league – not for the game because we’re going to love footy forever, I’ll just go and watch other footy – but our affection for the league, and this is what the AFL needs to be mindful of, what happens to that?
“Can you imagine what would happen to that?”
Murphy said the simple act of saving the expansion teams of teams with storied history would be “traumatic”.
“Imagine how traumatic that would be, not just for the supporters of those teams, to keep hold of the expansion teams and to lose a couple of teams that are 100 years old, it would be pretty traumatic for the football follower,” he said.
“I’d have a really hard time with that. That would be horrific. To see clubs gone.”
Listen to the full discussion below