BDAFL Planning to have an 11 Team Black Diamond Cup Competition in 2018
Article produced in conjunction with Michael Parriss and the Newcastle Herald
The Hunter Haval Black Diamond AFL is planning on having an 11-team Black Diamond Cup competition next year under its equalisation policy.
League officials briefed clubs last week and shared a draft of their strategic plan for 2018 to 2020.
The plan includes promoting Wyong Lakes, Gosford, Maitland, Singleton and Lake Macquarie from the BDAFL Plate competition to the top grade in 2018. Each side would have a reserve-grade team, and the Plate competition would be scrapped.
The other two Plate sides, Muswellbrook and The Entrance Bateau Bay, would play only in reserve grade.
The league’s equalisation policy is designed to end the dominance of Newcastle City and Terrigal-Avoca, who have won the past nine grand finals. It has included limits on who both sides could recruit this season.
The rules have led to more closely contested matches although have had minimal effect on Terrigal-Avoca, who lead the competition. Newcastle City, who threatened the league with legal action when they were introduced, began the season slowly but have won their past five games and are the only side to have beaten the Panthers.
The Blues and Panthers are the only clubs to have sides in all three men’s competitions this season but could be allowed to field three teams under the proposed new structure, albeit with two teams in a competition.
City, who run two teams in the women’s BDAFL, would lose one of those as the plan allows for only one women’s side at each club.
Plans are well underway to have a second inner city Newcastle established for the 2018 season, with the aim for a women team to be part of this club.
The Blues have called a general meeting for late this month to discuss their response to the plan.
BDAFL football operations coordinator Garry Burkinshaw said an Equalisation Strategy Working Group has been established and soon would start examining how the new competition would work before a decision in November.
The new league would likely include recruitment limits which would apply to the whole league, rather than targeting City and Terrigal Avoca specifically.
“It could be a recruitment points system of some sort,” Burkinshaw said. “The days of going out and recruiting whoever you like are over.
“It is about trying to help the sides at the bottom get to the top and the top sides being brought back down a little bit. Equalisation policies don’t please everybody because it is a restriction.”
Burkinshaw said the policy would be long-term strategy rather than a quick fix.
“To have a six-team top league which effectively only two sides can win is not good for our competition.
“The AFL is having their most competitive season ever. Everyone’s talking about how good it is. It’s taken 10 years of equalisation strategies to reach the point they’re at now, yet everyone’s judging our equalisation policy on 10 games.
“We want to see those 11 teams in the league in 10 years and all have the chance to win a premiership.”
“We have spoken to all the clubs that will be promoted to the Black Diamond Cup competition and they are excited by the prospect of again competing in the main competition.