The Queanbeyan Tigers have pulled out of their three year NEAFL contract and will not return to the competition next season.
It follows proposed changes to the structure of the competition by the NEAFL where they would look at reducing the number of teams in Queensland, NSW and the ACT.
The Belconnen Magpies and Sydney Hills Eagles will also pull out of their three year contracts with the competition.
All three clubs have cited the financial challenges involved in order to remain competitive within an increasingly improved standard of competition.
The NEAFL proposed to create a new franchise in the ACT to be the sole Canberra-based NEAFL team, but asked each club to contribute $150,000 per season to fund it.
Queanbeyan confirmed they could not afford that figure.
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.
Queanbeyan Tigers AFC Chairman Bob Gibbs thanked the AFL for the opportunity to participate in the competition.
“Based on the criteria that is required of clubs participating in the NEAFL, Queanbeyan will unfortunately no longer be able to take part in the competition moving forward,” said Gibbs
“We’re very grateful for the football experiences afforded to our club and in particular those players who have been fortunate enough to be a part of NEAFL.”
Belconnen Magpies President Scott Reid said it was disappointing to leave the competition after being the most successful team over the last decade.
“Our time in the NEAFL competition has given our players and officials the opportunity to match themselves against AFL clubs and the best teams on the eastern seaboard. The NEAFL has given us the opportunity to develop some strong young talent both on and off the field.
“We look forward to continuing our long and successful association with AFL Canberra in providing a vibrant and competitive competition for the whole region to enjoy.”
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.
See this Friday's The Queanbeyan Age for further details on the story.