The AFL says every existing AFL club will have an AFLW team by 2023.
- The AFLW will expand from 14 teams to 18 by 2023
- The sixth season of the AFLW will start in December and finish before the start of the AFL men’s season
- The four remaining clubs without an AFLW side will hand in submissions to enter their teams by July 9, 2021
The AFL said Essendon, Hawthorn, Port Adelaide and the Sydney Swans — the four teams currently without a women’s program in the national competition — should tender submissions by July 9 this year, with an aim to enter the competition by the beginning of season eight in 2023.
AFL boss Gillon McLachlan said the current 14-team AFLW competition had fostered incredible growth in the game, but that the competition did not feel “whole” without all 18 clubs being a part of it.
“The AFLW competition has built a new audience base for the code,” McLachlan said in a statement.
“But we don’t feel that the competition is whole without all 18 clubs and we know from the clubs that they don’t feel whole now without an AFLW team.”
The AFLW started with eight teams in 2017, before expanding to 10 teams in 2019 and 14 in 2020.
McLachlan also announced that next season’s competition would increase from nine rounds to 10, plus three weeks of finals, and would start in December 2021.
The final will be held in mid-March, before the start of the AFL season, giving the entire women’s competition clean air.
“AFLW has significant momentum and we want to keep that momentum and bring the power and the supporter base behind all 18 clubs before the end of 2024,” McLachlan said.
“The standard of play has continued to lift as we have expanded the competition and we are seeing more free-flowing and attacking football as more talent comes through the pathways.”