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WAFL backs State leagues knockout comp
WAFL backs State leagues knockout comp

The WAFL has thrown its support behind a new national competition which would pit Australia's best State league clubs against each other in front of a national television audience.

The Leagues Championship Cup, which has the support of the AFL, the conditional support of the VFL and the financial backing of Fox Sports, could start as early as next April.

The knockout competition would include 16 teams - all finalists in the previous season - from the WAFL, VFL, SANFL, Tasmania, New South Wales, Queensland and the ACT.

An eight-team competition is also being considered, but it's believed WA, SA and Victoria can each provide four sides, with one from each of the other States, in the preferred model.

It is planned for games to be played when participating teams have a bye in their local league, with matches scheduled and televised on Saturday between the afternoon and evening AFL fixtures.

The State leagues have to inform the AFL of their decision today. A green light could come as early as next week.

An interstate series similar in concept, the Escort Cup, ended in the mid-1980s shortly before the VFL expanded into a national competition with the addition of West Coast and Brisbane in 1987.

WAFL operations manager Clint Roberts said the league will back the new competition.

"Our clubs are all pretty positive about it," Roberts said. "We think it's a good idea and important if we are a part of it, that it's highly regarded and that our best team is playing.

"It's a good experience for our clubs and the players involved in them.

"As long as the costs are covered and there's suitable prize money attached to it, I think it will be endorsed."

Roberts said the opportunity for players to be featured on the national stage could only benefit the league.

"There's that extra exposure point of view and it's always been discussed who's the best team," he said.

"In the past we've had post-season games and I don't know that they are the best indicator."

VFL operations manager John Hook said the league will support the new concept but some things "needed to be worked on".

"I think anything that promotes State-wide competitions is not a bad thing," Hook said. "The concept has a great appeal and I think the clubs would like it.

"The difficulty with us compared to Western Australia and South Australia is we have a lot more teams and more alignment clubs with the AFL, so it's a lot more complicated from our point of view when you come to byes.

"We favour an eight-team compe-tition at this stage but that's not to say in the future you couldn't go to a 16-team competition to see how it goes."

Hook said he believed all the State leagues are in a healthy state but the new competition will have to be totally funded so it wasn't a cost to the competing clubs.

"Certainly from a Victorian perspective, when you are playing interstate, you need a reasonable party to compete," he said. "They are just things that are on the drawing board at the moment. But the bottom line in principle is that it's a good idea."

WAFL Council of Presidents chairman, Neil Randall, said anything new is good for football.

"There's a few teething problems that need to be sorted out and I don't know whether they can go with the top four clubs from each State initi-ally," Randall said.

"They may have to look at the top two just to get it off the ground and running with all the logistics, the expense and cost.

"We could have the full competition in 2012 but we can't knock back corporate sponsors like Fox Sports and people that want to promote our game, especially at grass roots level."