UP: Maitland pair Dave Ross and Wade Beard hold aloft this year’s first-division trophy. Picture: Michael HartshornThe Black Diamond AFL will almost double in size next year if a proposal to promote five first-division teams gets passed during the off-season.
Maitland, Singleton, Wyong, Gosford and Lake Macquarie could all be on the up in 2018 following discussions at Sunday’s annual general meeting.
Around 35 people were in attendance at Belmont 16s withfirst grade expansion, player points systemandAFL NSW-ACT affiliation on the agenda.
The current six-team competition features premiers Terrigal-Avoca, grand finalists Cardiff, perennial powerhouse Newcastle City, Nelson Bay, Warners Bay and Killarney Vale.
Black Diamond AFL president Wal Bembic said officials have been working towards thisgrowth throughoutrecent campaigns with a tailored draw designed to help the cause.
“Certainly the idea of all the changes over the last few years has been to expand the Black Diamond Cup competition,” Bembic said.
“We’ve got six teams and previously we’ve had teams come up for a year or two, but next year we hope to have five sides come up and while it is a big step up we would have a seeded competition.
“Those five new teams will play each other twiceand they’ll play the existing six teams once. Theexisting six teams will play each other twice and they’ll play the new five teams once.
“So it’s a bit of a soft landing, but clubs get the opportunity to play the best and also play the most games against the sides at their own level.”
Maitland and Singleton played in this year’s first-division grand final, Wyong were minor premiers while Gosford and Lake Macquarie both missed the semis.
The potential introduction of a playerpoints system, including a recruitment cap, may also ease that transition.
“The idea being to enable new clubs who come to the Black Diamond to recruit as many players as they canand the top teams every year would be limited in their recruitment,” Bembic said.
Player sign-on restrictions imposed on Newcastle City and Terrigal Avoca for2017 have now been lifted.
Bembic said next year’slower grades would depend on nominations but a three-tier structure has been put forward.
Also proposed – ashort-term masters tournament and the emergence of Wallsend and Port Stephens in the women’s competition.
All clubs have until next Friday (November 17) to respond to the outlined changesbefore the Black Diamond AFL board meets again on November 29.
Bembic said the Black Diamond’s affiliation with NSW-ACT AFL next season is uncertain.
Meanwhile, Warners Bay product Paul Hunter has been retained on the rookie list of beaten AFL grand finalists the Adelaide Crows.