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.
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.
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|
|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.