The WAFL's nine clubs will meet West Coast and Fremantle in a month in the next step towards resolving the long-standing dispute over whether to introduce AFL reserves teams into the league.
After a meeting between all parties last night that South Fremantle president Haydn Raitt described as "exceptionally positive" and included a strong address from West Coast coach John Worsfold, all clubs were more confident of a mutually agreeable solution.
Raitt said the Eagles and Dockers were still eager to establish alignments with two WAFL clubs - a result unanimously opposed by the State league teams - but other solutions more palatable to both sides were closer to being introduced.
"It was the first meeting at which everyone seemed to be together," Raitt said.
"We want what is best for the Eagles and Dockers but as we have said all along, that can't be to the cost of the WAFL competition. But this was a very positive meeting, there were some impressive people putting their case and maybe we can find a way to work together."
The next meeting, to be overseen by a WA Football Commission committee including chairman Frank Cooper and chief executive Gary Walton, would address some of the potential solutions.
Raitt said Swan Districts football manager Phil Smart, a former Dockers recruiting manager, would attempt to draft an improved bye model that would see WAFL clubs play West Coast and Fremantle teams during their WAFL byes.
Cooper was upbeat about the meeting, claiming that both sides had left the meeting with a better understanding of the "broader challenges facing football" here.
"It was a good discussion and it was good for all of the parties to hear directly from each other," he said. "There was good recognition of the needs of the AFL clubs - to have their players training and playing together. But there was also good recognition that any change needs to enhance the WAFL."
- Claremont's Luke Blackwell will appear before the WAFL Tribunal tonight after being reported for striking East Fremantle's Richard Hadley on Saturday.