Royals chief wants WAFL to cull one club
Bronte Howson. Pic: WA News

East Perth president Bronte Howson has urged a return to an eight-team WAFL competition to help ensure the league's longevity.

Predicting the WAFL might be dead within 10 years without the extra cash provided under the new AFL alignment system, the veteran club administrator identified the need for further rationalisation.

Four clubs made significant losses last year, with only two others - Medibank Stadium co-tenants Subiaco and East Perth - returning substantial profits.

But Howson questioned whether the WA Football Commission was prepared to make the tough decision to reduce the league after 18 years as a nine-team competition. Peel joined the WAFL in 1997, but have failed to play finals and have struggled financially.

"The competition may not be a nine-team comp in the future," Howson said.

"I've always suggested it should go back to eight teams.

"That would improve the distribution. But the commission is not making those hard decisions."

East Perth have entered a five-year partnership with West Coast that both clubs hoped "would continue forever and a day".

Fremantle have an identical relationship with Peel that will see their surplus AFL players housed at the WAFL club.

An extra $1 million will be distributed to the WAFL clubs as part of the alignment model, which Howson said was essential to the future health of the 129-year-old State league.

"This is the first step in revamping the WAFL and helping the AFL teams to perform at their maximum," Howson said.

"We believe it was the right move for football and the WAFL and for East Perth.

"If we want a competition for our kids to play in in 10 years time, or our grandkids to play in, something had to change. Hard decisions had to be made.

"We have to make our AFL teams successful so that they generate more money and through the distribution system more money will come back to the WAFL clubs."

The alignment has caused significant angst at some WAFL clubs given their home-grown AFL players have been transferred to the partners of the Eagles and Dockers.

But Howson pointed out all nine clubs identified the need for greater funding and five were prepared to enter an alignment with the AFL clubs.

West Coast chief executive Trevor Nisbett praised East Perth for their foresight in joining forces with the Eagles, but said he hoped the other WAFL clubs would also benefit from the arrangement.

"We hope this partnership will last forever and a day," Nisbett said.

"The thing the clubs have to do is embrace what happened and the clubs that embrace it quickly will get to a higher level very quickly.

"The players will be better and they will develop better.

"This is a major injection of funds into the WAFL. It will be ongoing and I dare say that won't decrease. This is a big sling into the WAFL and hopefully the clubs will use it wisely. It should uplift the WAFL competition."

The West Australian

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