A NEW governance structure to align senior and junior competitions has been “approved in principle” after the Black Diamond AFL, AFL NSW/ACT and AFL Hunter Coast reached a compromise on Friday.
Under the existing model, senior football in the region has been run by BDAFL, while AFL Hunter Coast has overseen juniors.
Under the proposed revamp agreed on Friday, a new seven-man board made up of AFL NSW/ACT representatives and members would be elected by both the senior and junior clubs to govern all football in the region.
Members of both the BDAFL and AFL Hunter Coast will be asked to vote to ratify the proposal, after which the new league would be established.
BDAFL President, Wal Bembic endorsed the outcome of Friday’s meeting, after months of protracted negotiations that at one point appeared likely to result in a split and the BDAFL relinquishing its affiliation to the AFL.
“The Black Diamond AFL have always stated that a single governance model is important for the continued development of AFL in this region,” Bembic said in a statement.
“In saying that, however, the Black Diamond AFL is very strong and independent in its own right, and the board had a responsibility to its members to ensure that any new model would not negatively affect them or the competitions.
“I would also like to thank the AFL NSW/ACT and AFL Hunter Coast on the manner in which the negotiations were handled and look forward to the commencement of the new league and more importantly being able to focus again on the 2018 football season.”
A new community football manager will be appointed to oversee competition strategy, align juniors and seniors, educate clubs and coordinate umpiring and football operations.
The football manager will work in conjunction with two full-time operations assistants, a part-time media manager and the existing AFL NSW/ ACT umpiring and development staff.
The new league will use AFL branding and will have regional naming, which will apply to both junior and senior competitions, but the senior competition will continue to be known as the Black Diamond Cup.
Member clubs are expected to receive affiliation-fee relief.
In all, 41 teams will compete across the men's and women's competitions, with nominations still to be called for the social (over-30) competition.
Five sides will be added to the Black Diamond Cup first-grade competition, increasing the league to 11 teams.
There will be 14 teams in the Black Diamond Plate reserve-grade premiership.
The women's competition will expand to 16 teams, including two teams from Newcastle City.
A sustainability program will be introduced in an attempt to ensure a more even spread of playing talent.
This is expected to entail a points system that will be enforced before each game.