The 2013 WAFL season is likely to extend to 27 weeks and include three separate competitions as part of a deal to avoid AFL reserves teams being introduced to the State league.
The nine WAFL presidents have endorsed a proposal for all clubs to give up their AFL-listed players and to play regular matches against West Coast and Fremantle teams. But the Eagles and Dockers would not enter the WAFL premiership competition and instead would take part in a separate cup competition that would compete for a significant cash prize.
A detailed proposal will be submitted to the WA Football Commission and the AFL clubs next month after the concept has been digested by WAFL chief CEOs and boards.
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South Fremantle president Haydn Raitt confirmed that WAFL clubs believed the proposal was more sustainable than expanding the league to 11 teams.
And it would help the Eagles and Dockers achieve their stated aim of better developing their players by keeping them in the one team.
"It gives them what they want and this might be a necessary development for the greater good of the WAFL," he said.
"If this can generate some good dollars for the WAFL, give the Eagles and Dockers what they want and not interfere with the integrity of our competition, there are a lot of pluses."
Raitt compared the new fixture arrangement to the English Premier League where clubs played in a premiership as well as different cup competitions.
"We had a very positive meeting though there are still a lot of questions to be answered," Raitt said.
"It won't happen next year but we have given it a tick to go to the next stage."
Under the proposal, the WAFL clubs would:
· Play a 27-week season.
· Maintain the 20-game qualifying round plus finals.
· Use their byes to play four games against West Coast and Fremantle teams.
· Abandon the pre-season competition.
· Give up their AFL-listed players.
· Play for substantial prize money in the new separate competition.
Raitt said draft fixtures drawn up by the working party - Perth president Vince Pendal, former South Fremantle president Terry Dean and WAFL operations manager Clint Roberts - showed the premiership, Foxtel Cup and new cup competition could be played over 27 weeks.
But the issue of AFL clubs running out of players, as demonstrated by Fremantle in the past two weeks when just a handful were released to their WAFL clubs, might reduce the cup competition to 10 or 12 matches.
Raitt said the loss of the AFL- listed players meant every WAFL club would be on a level playing field.
"We have been through the host club scenario and that does not work, and while some clubs might be happy to give their players back to the AFL clubs, and some might not be, everyone recognises that this might be unavoidable," he said.
"We go back to a level playing field rather than having some teams playing with eight AFL players and others with none or one. Some WAFL coaches are actually sick of being mucked around with players coming back or players not being available."