AFL NSW/ACT Media Release
The AFL has today announced several changes to the format of the North East Australian Football League (NEAFL), as part of the ongoing process to ensure long-term focus on increased competition standard and enhanced talent pathways remains the foremost priority of the league.
Following the structural changes implemented ahead of the 2014 season, there has been ongoing consultation with all of the participating clubs to ensure the League’s continued development as a second-tier Australian Football competition in New South Wales, Queensland, the Northern Territory and the ACT.
As a result of this consultation process, three clubs from NSW and the ACT - Queanbeyan, Belconnen and Sydney Hills Eagles - have opted not to continue as licence holders for the remainder of their three year agreement. All three clubs have cited the financial challenges involved in order to remain competitive within an increasingly improved standard of competition.
AFL National Second Tier Manager Simon Laughton said the priority for the league was to maintain the high standards that were established prior to the 2014 season.
"When we re-structured the NEAFL competition in 2013 we wanted to ensure clubs would continue to reach high standards of performance both on and off-field," Laughton said.
"We are committed to this process, and will support clubs to strive to achieve the high standards befitting an elite second-tier competition."
AFL NSW/ACT General Manager Craig Bolton said that clubs would be supported through their transition period back to community football.
"These three clubs have made a tremendous contribution to the NEAFL competition, and we would like to thank them for their efforts," Bolton said.
"Each of the clubs remains an important part of the community football landscape, and we will assist them wherever possible with this transition process.
Sydney Hills Eagles General Manager Gavin Lawrence said the club had enjoyed the challenge of participating in the NEAFL.
"Our players and coaches have relished the opportunity to compete at a higher standard but the reality is that as the competition evolves our level of competitiveness was coming into question," Lawrence said.
"We now look forward to re-establishing our community club as a strong competitor in the AFL Sydney Premier Division."
The NEAFL is the premier development league in Australia’s northern and eastern regions, providing player talent to the relevant state leagues along with the associated AFL clubs.
The NEAFL was introduced in 2011 and is currently made up of clubs from Sydney, Brisbane, the Gold Coast, Canberra and the Northern Territory. It provides an elite second-tier competition for reserves sides from AFL clubs in New South Wales and Queensland, the Sydney Swans, the Greater Western Sydney GIANTS, the Brisbane Lions and the Gold Coast SUNS.