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Port Adelaide VFL push fuels talk of AFL reserves competition

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Port Adelaide have reportedly lodged an official application for their reserves team to join the VFL in 2025.

The move comes amid growing support for the reinstatement of a nationwide AFL reserves competition, which has not been seen since the 1990s.

Steps towards that goal have already been taken, with the VFL and NEAFL merging in 2021 to create a 21-team competition spanning Victoria, Queensland and New South Wales.

It means Adelaide, Fremantle, Port Adelaide and West Coast are the only AFL clubs without teams in the expanded VFL.

For many years, the state leagues in South Australia and Western Australia have been stronger than their counterparts on the eastern seaboard.

However, the unique conditions under which AFL clubs compete in the SANFL and WAFL have a significant impact on their ability to develop players.

Earlier this year, West Coast CEO Trevor Nisbett revealed the Eagles were considering a move to the VFL due to the unlikelihood of finding a solution to their now-untenable situation in the WAFL.

At Port Adelaide’s best-and-fairest night this year, club chairman David Koch pointed out that South Australia’s AFL teams face obstacles that those in the eastern states do not.

“The two AFL clubs play under different rules to the other SANFL clubs, which makes success difficult and, frankly, has a detrimental impact on the development of our AFL players,” he said.

“No other AFL clubs have this imposition on their player development. It is an issue we are working to solve in the near future one way or another, and we will solve it.

“We need to be in the best second-tier competition, which allows us to develop our players.”

Port Adelaide’s proposed move would end one of the oldest affiliations in world sport, as the club has competed in the SANFL since 1877.

The Power are paying +1100 at BetOnline to win the 2024 AFL premiership, with Collingwood pegged as +400 favourites to defend their title.

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