Proposed VFL/AFL clubs are clubs that at various points in the history of the Australian Football League have been or were distinct possibilities but either did not or have not yet eventuated. Due to their association with the national Australian competition, they have drawn a large amount of controversy and media attention.

Formation of VFL (1896)

The VFL was formed in 1896 when Carlton, Collingwood, Essendon, Fitzroy, Geelong, Melbourne, South Melbourne and St Kilda left the Victorian Football Association. A number of other VFA clubs were touted as becoming members of the League at this time, the most notable being North Melbourne and Port Melbourne.

North Melbourne

North was denied entry due to Essendon believing that it would take its recruiting areas.[1]

Port Melbourne

Port Melbourne was denied entry in favour of South due to its reputation of having unruly fans.[2] North Melbourne eventually gained admission in 1925, and Port Melbourne continued to play in the VFA.

VFL expansion (1925)

Between 1919 and 1925 the VFL sought expressions of interest from clubs wishing to gain admittance to the League. While Footscray, Hawthorn and North Melbourne were accepted in 1925, a number of existing VFA clubs were considered. The VFA clubs were Brighton, Brunswick, Port Melbourne and Prahran.[3]

One impediment that the VFL encountered when considering admitting existing VFA clubs to its ranks in 1925 was the existing recruiting districts; the VFL clubs' districts had been drawn up equitably in 1915, and clubs were unwilling to surrender portions of their districts to incoming VFA clubs.[4] One attempt to overcome this was the Public Service Football Club, which would draw its players from the public service rather than from a geographical district. The Public Service club was formally established in 1924 and was based at the newly built Motordrome, and it applied to join the VFL in 1925; but its application was rejected and the club disbanded without playing a game.[5]

North Melbourne (1907, 1921)

After the split between the VFL and VFA, North Melbourne became one of the stronger clubs in the VFA. In 1908, after University was admitted to the league, North Melbourne merged with West Melbourne and applied to become the tenth team in the league, under the name City Football Club; but, proposal was rejected and Richmond was admitted instead. North Melbourne and West Melbourne were kicked out of the VFA for attempting to defect, but North Melbourne returned to the VFA the same year under a new committee.

In another attempt to gain admission, North Melbourne proposed a merger with Essendon in 1921, when Essendon attempted to move to the Arden Street Oval after its home ground at East Melbourne was closed. The proposal was rejected and both clubs continued in their previous states. North Melbourne finally gained admission to the VFL in 1925.[1]

Footscray (1919, 1922, 1923)

In the decade following World War I, Footscray became a powerhouse of the VFA. It was a rich club in a strong industrial area, and was able to recruit players aggressively from the VFL. It first applied for membership of the VFL in 1919, and then again in 1922 and 1923. It was admitted in 1925.[6]

VFL expansion proposals

In the mid-1950s there were additional discussions and an attempt by a club to gain admission into the VFL.

Ballarat (1955)

In 1954 there was discussion within the VFL to expand the competition to include both Ballarat and Bendigo sides.[7] In 1955 the Ballarat Football Club officially applied to join the VFL. Although the application was referred to a special sub-committee that was to meet and make a recommendation, there is no evidence that the application was ever acted on by the VFL.[8]

Fitzroy mergers (1980, 1986, 1989, 1994, 1996)

Main article: Proposed mergers and relocations of the Fitzroy Football Club

The Fitzroy Football Club, while being a league powerhouse in the early 1900s, found itself in financial difficulties by the 1980s. A number of mergers and relocations were proposed by both the league and the club throughout the 1980s and 1990s, culminating in the club merging its playing operations with the Brisbane Bears in 1996.

National Competition proposals (since 1980)

While between 1925 and 1986 the same twelve clubs competed in the VFL, with the only exceptions being in 1942 and 1943 when Geelong went into recess due to travel restrictions, petrol rationing and loss of players to service in World War II, and in 1982 when the financially troubled South Melbourne relocated to Sydney, there were a number of developments in the 1980s when new clubs were proposed as the League became the pre-eminent competition in the country.

East Perth (1980)

In 1980 East Perth of the West Australian Football League applied to join the VFL as the League's first non-Victorian club. Nothing came of this application.[9]

Canberra / Australian Capital Territory (1981, 1986, 1988, 1990, 1993)

See also: Australian rules football in the Australian Capital Territory

See also: Proposed relocation of the North Melbourne Football Club

The Australian Capital Territory Australian Football League was the first league from a major city to express an interest in fielding a team in a national competition as early as the 1970s, however the first official bid was made in 1981,[10].[11] The VFL dismissed the bid, opting for a Sydney side instead. Following the entry of the Canberra Raiders, the sport in Canberra lost major ground to rugby league. In 1990, the ACTAFL began to arrange a deal with the AFL to field a Canberra-based team in the AFL Reserves competition from 1991, which the ACTAFL hoped would later lead to senior representation.[12][13] The ACTAFL had received assurances from the AFL throughout 1990 that the bid was progressing well; but progress abruptly stalled and the bid failed in August 1990 when Port Adelaide made its bid to join the AFL, drawing almost all of the AFL's strategic focus to the South Australian situation.[14]

Norwood Redlegs (1982, 1985, 1986, 1990, 1994)

The Norwood Football Club had sought to join the AFL on numerous occasions.
The Norwood Football Club had sought to join the AFL on numerous occasions.

In 1982 the Norwood Football Club had sought discussions with the VFL about admissions but these met with cold responses. When Port Adelaide were privately seeking admission into the AFL during 1990, the AFL approached the club but Norwood decided to follow the SANFL's decision with its intentions undecided at the time.[15]

Fremantle Sharks (1987)

In 1987, the first year after the admission of the West Coast Eagles to the VFL, traditional rival WAFL clubs East Fremantle and South Fremantle had discussions on the possibility of merging and joining the VFL as a second Perth-based team. The merged club was to have been known as the Fremantle Sharks, and to have played at Fremantle Oval.[16]

Los Angeles Crocodiles (1987)

See also: Australian rules football in the United States

In 1987 a $10 million proposal from Perth magnate Errol Marron was put forward for a VFL expansion club based partly in Los Angeles (and partly in Melbourne) named the Los Angeles Crocodiles with profits from increased television rights to fund a local league. Stadiums in the proposal included the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. In October 1987 Ross Oakley announced that the VFL had officially rejected the bid.[17][18][19] [20][21][22]

Port Adelaide (1990)

Seven years before Port Power's debut season in the AFL, the SANFL club Port Adelaide applied to become the AFL's first South Australian club. During the 1990 preseason Port Adelaide played a practice match against the Geelong Cats at Football Park in front of 35,000.[23] However the bid met with legal issues within South Australia resulting in the SANFL creating the Adelaide Crows.[24]

Norwood-Sturt (1990s)

A rival bid proposed by Norwood and financially struggling Sturt to combat Port Adelaide's second bid was seriously considered during the early 1990s. When Port Adelaide won the second licence the Norwood-Sturt merger was still discussed but relations between the clubs quickly soured.[25]

Norwood Crows (1995)

During 1995 the Norwood Football Club, with the assistance of Wolf Blass, attempted to buy the Adelaide Crows and have them relocated to the Parade.[26]

Southport Sharks (1996)

By 1995 the Southport Sharks had reached 20,000 members began to lead the charge for a second Queensland team entering the Australian Football League. In 1996, the Sharks made their first bid to the AFL for inclusion in the national league, which was rejected by the AFL in favour of Port Adelaide's proposal. After which, the club continued to lobby for a licence.

Further attempts were made by the club to enter the AFL including purposed mergers with North Melbourne.[27]

Melbourne Hawks (1996)

Main article: Melbourne Hawks

The Melbourne Hawks would have consisted of the merger between the Melbourne and Hawthorn Football Clubs at the end of the 1996 season. Out of all the proposed merger combinations in the 1990s, it was seemed as ideal as it was known that Hawthorn had a football team which ranked as one of the best of all time but were in a dire financial situation, as opposed to Melbourne which had a sound financial base but were a club which had mostly struggled on-field since their last premiership in 1964.

Despite the controversial approval of the Melbourne Football Club board and members, the merger was voted out by Hawthorn members after a passionate campaign led by Don Scott.

Tasmania (mid-1990s, 2008)

Main article: Tasmanian AFL bid

Tasmania is traditionally a strong Australian Football state, and as such has been touted as being a location for an AFL club. The first serious proposal was made in the mid-1990s, as the League expanded further.[28] The licences were eventually granted to Fremantle and Port Adelaide.

The second Tasmania bid occurred in 2008 as the League announced that it wanted to expand further into Queensland and New South Wales. These licenses were granted to the Gold Coast and GWS.

Northern Territory (2018)

In October 2018, the Government of the Northern Territory announced that it would allocate $100,000 towards a "scoping study" to investigating whether the Territory should bid for an AFL licence when it becomes available. Chief Minister Michael Gunner and AFL Northern Territory CEO Stuart Totham met with AFL CEO Gillon McLachlan in Melbourne to discuss the potential bid. It was reported that an AFL licence would not become available until 2028 at the earliest.

If successful, the team would play its home games at TIO Stadium in Darwin and at Traeger Park in Alice Springs.[29][30]

Future proposals

Listed below are potential clubs that have been suggested by lobby groups, local governments or the AFL itself as regions that the league has expressed interest in granting licences.

Location/club Bid type Status/Notes
Tasmania Official (Tasmanian AFL bid 2021) Entry proposed for 2027.[31][32] The AFL consistently stated Tasmania was not a priority until 2021, when the Tasmanian government threatened to pull funding to Hawthorn and North Melbourne unless they were granted an AFL license as the 19th club. This proposal is going to a vote in August 2022, with the 18 AFL clubs to decide; a minimum of seven votes are required for their entry. This bid is supported by Hawthorn, Richmond, Collingwood and North Melbourne, but is opposed by Gold Coast Football Club president Tony Cochrane,[33] while the GWS and Brisbane Lions have confirmed that they are 'open minded' on the issue.[34] [35]
Auckland Official The AFL has stated Auckland is its next expansion priority pending construction of a suitable stadium, possibly by 2028. While Wellington has hosted all AFL premiership matches to date, the AFL has stated its preference is to locate a club in Auckland. The proposal has the support of AFL New Zealand and country's participation, with the average AFL attendance currently similar to that in the Tasmania, the NT and the ACT. The catchment population is highest of all AFL markets without a club.[36][37][38]
Darwin/Northern Australia Official (launched 2021) Entry proposed for 2027-2030.[39][40][41] Official bid launched in 2021 after feasibility study completed in 2018. Business case continues to be developed along with stadium proposals. Collingwood president Eddie McGuire supports this bid as the 20th club.[42]
Canberra Official Not supported by the AFL. Canberra has had an open bid for a license since the 1980s, which has been overlooked by the VFL/AFL for decades including when the South Melbourne became the Sydney Swans in 1982, in 1985 prior to the sale of the club to Geoffrey Edelsten, in 1986 when it was overlooked in favour of Perth and Brisbane, in 1988 when the Swans folded and the licence was put out to tender, in 1993 ("AFL For Canberra Bid"), 1995,[43] a proposed relocation of the North Melbourne Kangaroos, and again in 2008 when licenses were awarded to Greater Western Sydney and the Gold Coast. In 2019, the AFL CEO Gillion McLachlan stated that Canberra now belongs to the Giants.[44]
Newcastle Unofficial Suggested by many given Newcastle's large population and growing support for Australian rules football in the Hunter Region.[45][46][47]
Cairns/Far North Queensland Unofficial Sometimes bundled with NT/Northern Australia proposals: AFL Cairns owns Cazaly's Stadium.[48][49]
Sunshine Coast or 2nd Brisbane team Unofficial Speculation by the media fuelled by the temporary home for AFLW, with millions spent on upgrading Maroochydore complex and the Lions' relocation to The Reserve, Springfield.[50][51][52]
3rd Perth team Unofficial Frequently speculated by the media, but not mentioned as a distinct possibility since Andrew Demetriou in 2009.[53][54][55][56]


  1. ^ a b History of North Melbourne FC
  2. ^[dead link]
  3. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 21 August 2012. Retrieved 11 May 2011.((cite web)): CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  4. ^ "Football – Tenth Club proposal". The Argus. Melbourne, VIC. 2 October 1924. p. 12.
  5. ^ "Public Service Club – admittance to league". The Argus. Melbourne, VIC. 4 November 1924. p. 17.
  6. ^ "Potted History - Official AFL Website of the Western Bulldogs Football Club". Archived from the original on 29 June 2012. Retrieved 11 May 2011.
  7. ^ "VFL laws bar Ballarat and Bendigo". Herald. 16 September 1954.
  8. ^ "Ballarat Applies to Enter VFL". Argus. 14 July 1955.
  9. ^ "Fight on East Perth - Applying to Join VFL".
  10. ^ "Weaknesses exposed in VFL transfer plan". The Canberra Times. Vol. 55, no. 16, 746. Australian Capital Territory, Australia. 2 August 1981. p. 6. Retrieved 9 December 2021 – via National Library of Australia.
  11. ^ "Swans might be Canberra's lever into AFL". The Canberra Times. Vol. 64, no. 19, 730. Australian Capital Territory, Australia. 15 October 1989. p. 14. Retrieved 9 December 2021 – via National Library of Australia.
  12. ^ Daryl Timms (4 June 1990). "In on the ACT". The Sun News-Pictorial. Melbourne, VIC. p. 77.
  13. ^ Glen McFarlane; Glen Quartermain (August 1990). "Canberra bid hits stumbling block". The Sun News-Pictorial. Melbourne, VIC. p. 85.
  14. ^ Glen McFarlane; Glen Quartermain (August 1990). "Canberra bid hits stumbling block". The Sun News-Pictorial. Melbourne, VIC. p. 85.
  15. ^ 1990 'IN BRIEF ACT orienteers win top places.', The Canberra Times (ACT : 1926 - 1995), 9 August, p. 16, viewed 28 June 2014,
  16. ^ Peter Simunovich (24 July 1987). "Top WAFL clubs eye VFL spot". The Sun News-Pictorial. Melbourne, VIC. p. 78.
  17. ^ "Reference at".
  18. ^ "Reference at".
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  20. ^ "Tigers, Kangaroos and Lions could have merged: Ross Oakley". 4 July 2014.
  21. ^[bare URL]
  22. ^[bare URL]
  23. ^ 1990 'Trio to miss Cats' final hit-out.', The Canberra Times (ACT : 1926 - 1995), 21 March, p. 44, viewed 28 June 2014,
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  25. ^ Devaney, John "The Full Points Footy Encyclopedia of Australian Football Clubs, Volume 1", pg. 365
  26. ^ Rucci, Michaelangelo (24 October 2014). "Norwood's three-peat success in the "new" SANFL is a story that deserves greater praise". The Advertiser (Adelaide).
  27. ^[dead link]
  28. ^ "Ditch AFL bid: Clubs". 20 February 1998.
  29. ^ ABC News
  30. ^ AFL website
  31. ^ Bowen, Nick; Thompson, Matt (26 June 2013). "Tasmania keen to become a one-club state".
  32. ^ Stevenson, Sean. "A Tasmanian team is back on the AFL agenda". Herald Sun.
  33. ^ Footy feud between Peter Gutwein and Gold Coast Suns president equal parts bizarre, surreal and entertaining By Chris Rowbottom 26 Jun 2021
  34. ^ Brisbane and GWS confirm 'open minded' position to Tassie AFL team Emily Clooney 22 September 2021
  35. ^ In this regard, it should be mentioned that while the clubs are notionally independent bodies, the AFL retains ownership of five clubs - the GWS Giants, the Gold Coast Suns, Sydney Swans, Adelaide and Port Adelaide - and is also the sole voting member of three of those clubs (the Giants, Swans and the Suns).
  36. ^ Wilson, Caroline (26 April 2013). "We want AFL team: Kiwis". The Age.
  37. ^ Thompson, Matt (2 November 2013). "Saints could find themselves relocated to NZ, warns Thomas".
  38. ^ Warriors want new waterfront stadium with the Blues, Auckland Council interested David Long for Feb 19 2016
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  40. ^ Rawlinson, Clare (20 February 2013). "Hope on the horizon for NT AFL team".
  41. ^ "Northern Territory takes aim at goal to play in AFL". 24 August 2012.
  42. ^ ‘Put up or shut up’: Eddie’s mega multimillion-dollar, eight-point plan to create two new AFL teams Ben Waterworth and David Zita from Fox Sports April 8th, 2021
  43. ^ "It's time for the sleeping giant to lie kicked out of bed". The Canberra Times. Vol. 70, no. 21, 953. Australian Capital Territory, Australia. 26 May 1995. p. 36. Retrieved 2 December 2021 – via National Library of Australia.
  44. ^ Tassie wants in, so does the NT. Where will AFL teams 19 and 20 come from? Max Laughton. Fox Sports March 5th, 2020
  45. ^ "Where should the 20th AFL team be based?".
  46. ^ "'The next two teams': Sheedy backs Tassie and left-field location for AFL sides". 25 April 2022.
  47. ^ "Sheedy's left-field destination for AFL expansion". 25 April 2022.
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