Subiaco chief executive Peter Capes favours a top five for the WAFL. Picture: Heather Grosser/The Kalgoorlie Miner.
Subiaco chief executive Peter Capes favours a top five for the WAFL. Picture: Heather Grosser/The Kalgoorlie Miner.

WAFL clubs are preparing to vote on whether to introduce a top-five format for next year's finals series, with a majority believed to be in favour of the latest shake-up to the competition.

Chief executives from the nine clubs will vote on the change in the first week of September, with the WA Football Commission willing to give boards until then to reach a final position.

A vote about three years ago narrowly fell in favour of retaining the status quo, with a 5-4 verdict going against the change.

However, increased backing for the move from WAFC level under the AFL-alignment model and a shift in thinking from several WAFL clubs has made the scenario a more likely change for 2015.

East Fremantle, Subiaco, South Fremantle, East Perth and Peel are believed to favour the model used by the SANFL, while at least Claremont are undecided out of the rest.

The top five sides in the South Australian league at the end of the home-and-away season make the finals. The SANFL is also a nine-team competition.

Sharks chief executive Adam Kelly said his club was heavily in favour of changing the finals system.

East Fremantle wrote to the WAFC last November urging them to introduce a top five, arguing that it would increase exposure while better rewarding the minor premiers and teams finishing second and third.

Under the changed format, the finals series would last four rather than just three weeks.

The minor premiers would earn a week off to start with the sides placed second and fourth hosting first-up home finals against the teams directly below them.

All of the top three teams would benefit from a double chance.

"We're this far out from finals and many people - not us - but a lot of people are suggesting the final four is set," Kelly said.

"This is a good example of a year where the top five would create more interest for those sides that are currently sitting fifth, sixth and seventh and keep them alive.

"It would mean their players, coaches, members, supporters, staff and sponsors stay interested in the season for longer."

The team that has finished the WAFL season fifth has won at least 10 games in eight of the past 10 seasons.

East Fremantle posted 11 wins last season, but narrowly missed finals despite having a better percentage than the three teams above them on the ladder.

Subiaco chief executive Peter Capes said the SANFL model showed a top five did not just reward mediocrity.

"I looked at the teams finishing fifth and they played a meaningful part in the finals over the past five years," Capes said.

"There's been two or three teams in the past 10 years that have got to the preliminary final and one that got to the grand final."

West Perth are firmly against changing the format despite sitting fifth with six rounds to go this season.

Swan Districts president Peter Hodyl said losing any of the club's 10 home matches to accommodate a top five would be a deal breaker. An 18-round fixture for 2015 has also been discussed as a possibility. "The competition as a whole needs to have those games," Hodyl said.

"I looked at the teams finishing fifth … they played a meaningful part in the (SANFL) finals …" " Subiaco chief executive *Peter Capes *

The West Australian

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