AFL Hunter-Central Coast the new league proposed for the region by AFL NSW-ACT

Black Diamond AFL officials remain open to the idea of continuing to run Australian rules competitions in the region next year despite AFL NSW-ACT indicating there will “definitely” be a new league established for 2019.

MARK: Warners Bay Bulldogs player Luke Roach keeps his eye on the ball earlier in the 2018 Black Diamond AFL season. Picture: Jonathan Carroll

MARK: Warners Bay Bulldogs player Luke Roach keeps his eye on the ball earlier in the 2018 Black Diamond AFL season. Picture: Jonathan Carroll

The ongoing power struggle between two of the sport’s governing bodies looks set to endure beyond September’s grand final and well into the off-season before striving towards a resolution in time for round one next year.

AFL NSW-ACT northern NSW regional manager Simon Smyth told the Newcastle Herald this week that there “will definitely be a new AFL affiliated local league next year across junior-senior competitions”.

Smyth said this organisation would “be known as AFL Hunter-Central Coast”, essentially merging the separate senior (Black Diamond AFL) and junior (AFL Hunter Coast) competitions, introducing a newly “elected” board, “investing in three full-time staff” and providing “additional resourcing and support”.

These changes could see the Black Diamond AFL name disappear completely at an administration level, but potentially retained in a playing sense with first-grade teams still vying for the Black Diamond Cup.  

President of the current Black Diamond AFL board Wal Bembic said it was a difficult situation surrounded with uncertainty.

“We really hope the AFL [NSW-ACT] can produce a model that everyone is happy with, but at this stage we haven’t seen it,” Bembic told the Newcastle Herald.

“So if the clubs turnaround and aren’t buying what they’re selling and say they want us to keep running it, we will. It’s about doing what’s best for the clubs.”

Clubs met last week independently of both parties to discuss options beyond the 2018 season and to help make sense of the proposals being put on the table. 

An eight-person “transition working party” was revealed last week and Smyth said the group would be “responsible for supporting the efficient transition from the two existing leagues into the new local league”.

Bembic said he’s heard many people asking “why?”

“If the Black Diamond isn’t really broke, then does it need fixing?” Bembic said.

During the last two seasons Black Diamond AFL have experienced issues with clubs Newcastle City, Terrigal Avoca and Cardiff over the player points system and the controversial equalisation policy. 

Amalgamation between the AFL Hunter Coast juniors and Black Diamond AFL seniors to a single governance model was voted down in March.

The Black Diamond AFL’s current affiliation agreement with AFL NSW-ACT expires on October 31.