Sports

Time for league to have a long-term AFLW vision, declare players

Melbourne's AFLW team celebrate a victory.

Photo: AAP

The AFL Players' Association has reacted angrily towards a proposed reduction in AFL Women's games next season, calling on the league to establish a long-term vision for the competition.

Revealing there was a "significant level of frustration" among the female players over the fixturing issue, AFLPA chief executive Paul Marsh said AFLW should be the biggest women's sports competition in the nation.

The AFLW will expand from eight to 10 teams next season, with North Melbourne and Geelong coming aboard, but the number of matches could be shortened to six matches per side before a fortnight of finals.

“We understand the AFLW competition is in its infancy and we all need to work together to make it grow. What we believe is missing is the vision for where this competition is going," Marsh said.

"A reduction in games sends a message that the future for AFLW is not as positive as what we believe it should be given the momentum it has built. We also have a belief that AFLW could and should be the biggest and most successful womens sports league in Australia.

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"We are currently meeting with players around the country and there is a significant level of frustration with the proposed reduction in games.

"We are continuing to talk to the AFL about what the season should look like next year and beyond and what contracts and support needs to be put around the players going forward.

"Given the proximity to the 2019 season, we need some certainty shortly. AFLW players are not yet full-time professionals and as such have to juggle various competing priorities for their time."

There is no bigger priority for us in AFL head office than AFLW and womens football.

AFL chief Gillon McLachlan told 3AW on Friday no decision had been made on the competition's format and the number of games, insisting there was ''no bigger priority'' at league headquarters than AFLW. The AFL remains keen for the competition to start after the Australian Open.

"It's balancing all of those issues up. In an ideal world, everyone would play each other once. I understand that, but I've outlined as clearly as I can all the things that everyone is working through to try and get to the right outcome," McLachlan said.

"Were making decisions with a 30-year view, not in year three. There is no bigger priority for us in AFL head office than AFLW and womens football.”

The January-February sporting slot has become increasingly crowded, with cricket's men's and women's Big Bash featuring prominently, although the WBBL will soon move to October.

Melbourne AFLW star Daisy Pearce led the charge against the reduction of matches, declaring the proposed plans would turn it into a "gimmicky tournament".

The fixture will be released in late October.

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