Sharks have most to lose
Sharks have most to lose

The WAFL's most successful club has the most to lose from the introduction of AFL reserves teams because of the number of players it would have to replace.

East Fremantle have won 29 premierships but 16 is a far more critical figure in the debate about expanding the WAFL.

That is the number of AFL-listed players in their current squad.

Only five of them played for the Sharks last weekend but 10 Eagles and Dockers have been in action so far this season.

That is why East Fremantle president John McManus, who said he would examine the proposal with an open mind, remains sceptical.

"We will give it a fair hearing but we have to look at the impact that it will have on our club," he said.

"The whole submission has got holes in it from the operational perspective of a WAFL club but we have to examine those holes and see how they would impact on us.

"It is all well to say that it is a level playing field but if East Fremantle lost eight AFL players in one fell swoop, how would we replace them?"

West Coast and Fremantle's submission supporting the plan identifies a compensation figure of $250 a player a match for the loss of an AFL player - equating to match payments of $5000 over the season.

But McManus said that did not come close to enabling East Fremantle to replace the player.

"It costs $30,000 or so to get a player to the club and we might have to find six or more to stay at the level we are," he said.

But Subiaco president Neil Randall revealed that pragmatism was a key to his club's analysis.

Originally opposed to the plan, the Lions recognise that the lure of extra cash could sway some clubs.

Subiaco have had an annual income above $3 million for the past five years but face lower earnings with their 20-year arrangement at Subiaco Oval ending this year.

"We were pretty adamant that we wouldn't accept the two AFL clubs, but with that carrot dangled in front of our eyes it could change our thoughts," Randall said.

The West Australian

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