The reformed AFL commission, which had previously required explicit approval by a 75% vote of the League (the teams) for major items such as further expansion, mergers, relocations, and major capital works, identified Queensland and NSW as areas for commercial and participation growth in the mid-2000s.

GWS given 11 of first 14 draft picks in 2011

The two states had already one team each within the region, Brisbane and Sydney, and sought to replicate the success of the model used in the traditional Australian football states of Western Australia and South Australia where each had two local teams.

The AFL bureaucracy was warned against establishing a club in Western Sydney, a Rugby heartland, but they went ahead anyway in what appears to have been a failure, so far evidenced by the alarming decline in GWS home ground attendances. While critics are all too happy to question the sustainability and calling for an end to the Gold Coast Suns adventure, they have at  least been drawing higher attendances than the GWS most of the time.

G C S Given 8 of first 13 draft picks in 2010

Then there is lopsided sharing of high draft picks while lowly placed teams were starved of available talent the expansion clubs had received 25 draft picks in the first 14 in the years between 2010 to 2012. Having surrendered most of its authority to the powerful AFL executive many years ago, there is a strong view from clubs that the replacement commissioners should come from club land in a bid to bolster transparency, accountability and oversight of decisions impacting the fabric of the game. 2020 Attendances below were not considered due to Covid-19 restrictions

Gold Coast and GWS average attendances

Season Gold Coast Suns GWS Giants
2011 17th, 19,169
2012 17th, 13,645 18th, 10,825
2013 14th, 13,907 18th, 9,701
2014 12th, 16,092 16th, 9,226
2015 16th, 12,361 11th, 10,786
2016 15th, 11,561 4th, 12,333
2017 17th, 13,663 4th, 13,196
2018 17th, 11,563* 7th, 11,913
2019 (up to R14) 17th, 11,064 3rd, 11,535

* – Excludes Gold Coast’s ‘home’ game in Perth against Fremantle.


  1. James says:

    It made no sense to install a AFL club in the heart of Western Sydney, a Rugby league stronghold. The plan was to give the GWS as many top draft picks as necessary to ensure a premiership within five years, at the expense of the rest of the competition. We are dealing with a bureaucracy so don’t expect a change in policy any time soon.

  2. Ray Garby says:

    The Giants could not keep all the draft talent when their contracts were due for renewal after two years. Players with lesser ability were traded to southern clubs for what was to became a perpetual supply of future high draft picks.

  3. Anonyme says:

    By relinquishing their voting rights, the sixteen clubs had removed a voice for their supporters and given way to a conglomerate whose main concern is furthering its power. What were they thinking? Like any other bureaucracy it will not give up its control.

  4. Talford says:

    The Sunday Telegraph have revealed a staggering $197 million is being invested on the AFL the northern expansion clubs. In addition the government had funded a $60 million Skoda Stadium redevelopment for the Giants’ exclusive use, the $27 million Blacktown complex and the brand new $10 million Giants training base at Homebush.
    In addition to that, The AFL had thrown in more than $100 million. Such an enormous outlay would be almost justifiable if the facilities were being properly utilised by Sydney sporting fans.

  5. Bonza Wright says:

    The AFL’s Gold Coast Suns is the $250m disaster club and according to the Herald Sun they are now facing another exodus of talent, with several top draftees wanting out of the AFL’s problem child at season’s end. There is no atmosphere and moral as at an all time low. The AFL should pull the pin and admit they have made a monumental blunder with these expansion clubs and not throw any more money at the problem.

  6. Ray Wilson says:

    There were problems with ownership and the draining of talent from the competition to make the previous expansion clubs competitive. It took 15 years for the Brisbane Bears/Brisbane Lions to win a premiership in 2001 and 23 years before the Sydney Swans won their first premiership in 2005. Both needed to be propped up regularly with preferential draft picks from the southern states. The competition simply can’t accommodate another two expansion clubs unless they themselves can generate a reciprocal supply of talent….

  7. Pandie says:

    The future of the game and how it is played may well depend on how the League deal with concussion. In every game a player has to leave the field after a heavy knock and there is an increasing number being forced to retire early due to concussion.

  8. L Sharp says:

    If the AFL are concerned about head clashes they should reduce the number of players on the field. The VFA, which was incorporated into the VFL in the sixties, had 16 players a side and allowed the two handed underarm throw (which is happening now anyway) which should now be considered.

  9. Dean says:

    There would be less umpiring decisions required if they could reduce the number of players on the field. Looking at recent matches all the umpire’s decisions are disputed because they can go either way. The game has too many scrimmages and there are many infringements that are not being penalised. It is fanciful to believe that Aussie rules could ever be an international game.

  10. Janice says:

    Could not agree more!

  11. David Wells says:

    To be fair the AFL have clawed back a substantial amount of their initial outlay with the additional extra game TV coverage and gambling licenses but there is still a great deal of bitterness among club members who never had a say.

  12. Ted Fenton says:

    Pay rises for AFL executive has by far outstripped player wage increases. In 2019 the twelve man executive were paid an average of $880,000. The they had previously taken pay cuts of up to 20% due to the COVID crisis in 2020 but are now back on full salary! Gillon McLachlan is still on a reduced salary but the AFL won’t reveal what it is.

  13. Kevin Hogan says:

    While clubs have copped a 38 per cent cut to their football department budgets this year — and the game’s 800 players have accepted salary reductions of up to 9 per cent — the league confirmed McLachlan’s 12 senior executives have returned to pre-COVID pay.

  14. Russel Mills says:

    There so many departments many that had nothing to the administration of the game. Unnecessary departments were set that were not necessary but still they kept them going.
    Two executives who were sacked for having affairs with female employees, had mates in the AFL which resulted in one them getting a senior position at league club.There was also cronyism with mates in high places getting jobs for their family members.

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