MEDIA RELEASE – AFL Sydney Competition Structure Changes and Premier Division Promotions

Communication Date: 22 September 2024

AFL Sydney is pleased to formally announce the following key updates ahead of the 2024 AFL Sydney Season; (1) Competition structure changes and (2) Promotions to Men’s Premier Division and Women’s Premier Division.

Competition Structure Changes:

Introduction of an inaugural Women’s Under 20s competition aligned to AFL Sydney Senior Clubs, to support bridging the gap between junior and senior football and to increase the transition rate of female players into AFL Sydney Seniors.

The Under 20s female competition will commence in 2024 and be named:

Women’s Under 20s Division One

AFL Sydney has noted a steady reduction in the transition of female players from junior to senior football over recent years, with only 36 per cent of those aging out of junior football in 2022 joining senior clubs in season 2023. With the structural changes confirmed in junior football (moving to Under 17s as the highest age group for female players), the league strongly believes 2024 is the right time to introduce an underage female competition.

When the Women’s Under 20s competition is more mature, AFL Sydney will align the female and male underage competitions at Under 19.5.

Revision of the current underage male competition age group, with Under 19.5 to replace the current Under 19 age group. Under the revised competition age group, male players will remain eligible for Under 19.5 provided they are still 19 years of age (or younger) on June 30 of the competition year.

The additional six months of eligibility in the age group is to increase the scale of eligible players and therefore over time team nominations in the competition. This change will also ensure players have more time to develop in underage competition prior to entering senior open age male competitions, providing for greater retention of players at a key age group for sustainability of clubs. By making this change (additional six month of eligibility), a further approximately 150 players will remain age eligible for male underage competitions in season 2024.

Further to the above, in the Under 19.5 Division Two competition, clubs can seek dispensation for up to four players who are turn 20 years of age between July 1 and December 31 of the competition year. This provision is to support players who are suited to the competition level, and who would benefit from an additional season of underage football.

The Under 19.5 Male Competitions will commence in 2024 and be named:

Men’s Under 19.5 Division One

Men’s Under 19.5 Division Two

AFL Sydney is committed to ensuring a strong and sustainable underage competition pathway for male and female players, to support transition from junior to senior football.

Restructure of the men’s senior open age competitions with a divisional competitive balance model to replace the current alignment model. The revised structure will allow for greater competitive balance across the competition while supporting aspirations of all clubs and players. This change also aligns open age male and open age female competitions under the same model: Premier Division and divisionalised competitions.

Over the previous five seasons, the retention rates for senior male players in AFL Sydney have reduced significantly from 60 per cent in 2016-2017 to 51 per cent in 2022-2023. To improve the experience of players, the league believes more competitively balanced competitions will best support increasing retention of senior male players in coming seasons.

In the revised structure men’s senior open age teams (below Premier Division) will be placed into competitions from Division One to Division Five (or Division Six subject to team nominations) based on performance in 2023 along with consultation and input from Clubs.

The ‘Platinum’ competition name will not be used during the 2024 season, AFL Sydney will consider further use of the naming convention in future seasons.

Men’s Premier Division, Women’s Premier Division and Men’s Under 19.5 Division One will continue to be aligned on matchdays, as per previous seasons.

The league will aim to create the most balanced and aligned competitions across all clubs and grades to ensure reduced burden on volunteers and maximize club environments on game days. Promotion and relegation within divisional football will be more consistently applied, however, will not be automatic with the league to review the allocation of teams within competitions in consultation with clubs.

The league will endeavour to align first and second grade teams across men’s and women’s competitions within the new structure, with the aim to continue to support alignment on match days while maintaining an increased focusing on creating the most competitively balanced competitions to improve retention of senior players.

As an added benefit, and to increase awareness and promotion of Men’s Division One and Women’s Division One competitions, AFL Sydney can announce select fixtures in these competitions will be streamed live with commentary to the AFL Sydney Facebook page in Season 2024.

The optimal number of teams in each competition will be 9-10 teams, to further support the highest level of alignment possible for all clubs and to provided increased equity with all teams playing each other twice (home and away) across an 18 round season. 

See below for a visual representation of the 2024 competition structures;

Men’s Open Age CompetitionsWomen’s Open Age CompetitionsMen’s Underage CompetitionsWomen’s Underage Competitions
Men’s Premier DivisionWomen’s Premier DivisionMen’s Under 19.5 Division OneWomen’s Under 20 Division One
Men’s Division OneWomen’s Division OneMen’s Under 19.5 Division Two 
Men’s Division TwoWomen’s Division Two  
Men’s Division ThreeWomen’s Division Three  
Men’s Division FourWomen’s Division Four*  
Men’s Division Five   
Men’s Division Six*   

*Subject to team nominations

Promotions to Men’s and Women’s Premier Division:

Men’s Premier Division

The league can confirm the successful application of the South West Sydney Blues to join the Men’s Premier Division competition in season 2024 as the 10th licence holder.  The Blues will continue to field a team in Under 19.5 Division One and has committed to a strategic plan to continue to develop their club over the coming years to ensure sustainability at the highest level to AFL Sydney Football.

No further changes are applicable to Men’s Premier Division in 2024, therefore, the competition will consist of 10 teams playing each other twice (home and away) across an 18 round season.

See below for confirmed 2024 Men’s Premier Division Clubs:

Clubs – Men’s Premier Division 2024
East Coast Eagles
Inner West Magpies
Manly Warringah Wolves
North Shore Bombers
Pennant Hills Demons
St. George Dragons
South West Sydney Blues
Sydney University
UNSW-ES Bulldogs


Women’s Premier Division

The league can confirm the successful application of the St George Dragons to join the Women’s Premier Division competition in season 2024 as the ninth licence holder.  The Dragons’ Women’s team will join the clubs Men’s Premier Division and Under 19.5 Division One teams to create greater alignment across the Premier Division competitions. 

The league can also confirm the Macquarie University Warriors and the Parramatta Goannas have extended its Alliance across all women’s teams for the next three season, covering 2024 – 2026. All Alliance teams shall be known as the Parramatta Macquarie University Goannas.

As was previously communicated to AFL Sydney Clubs on August 24; Southern Power have been moved from Women’s Premier Division into Divisional football competitions effective immediately. The rationale for this decision has been communicated to Southern Power, however, it largely centered on an inability for the clubs’ current women’s program to compete at Premier Division level.

No further changes will apply to Women’s Premier Division in 2024, therefore, the competition will consist of 9 teams playing each other twice (home and away), along with each team having two byes across an 18 round season. 

See below for confirmed 2024 Women’s Premier Division Clubs:

Clubs – Women’s Premier Division 2024
East Coast Eagles
Manly Warringah Wolves
North Shore Bombers
Parramatta Macquarie University Goannas
Pennant Hills Demons
St. George Dragons
Sydney University
UNSW-ES Bulldogs

Thanks for a Great 2023:

The AFL Sydney Community Football Team wanted to pass on my sincere thanks to everyone across our footy community who has supported the delivery of season 2023 including volunteers, umpires, supporters, players, and officials.

A clear place to start is with our amazing volunteers – The league simply does not run without our wonderful volunteers, and it is not lost on me the time and effort you all put in to ensure our great game can be played every weekend. From setting up grounds, marking lines, cooking the BBQ, cleaning the rooms and everything in between our volunteers are our most important people and from the AFL Sydney team – Thank you for your continued passion for AFL Sydney footy.

To our players and officials – We hope you had an enjoyable season 2023 and regardless of winning a premiership or not, and hope you had fun and will return once again in 2024 to play AFL Sydney footy. It was nice to have a season free from the impacts of COVID or wet weather, which allowed us all to get back to playing consistent footy this season which was a welcome change.

To our supporters – thanks for your support of your clubs, and for the vast majority the respectful ways in which you showed both your support for your teams but also respect for all players and officials within the competition.

Wishing all our footy community a safe and happy off-season.

Kind Regards,

AFL Sydney Community Football Team

Media Enquiries, please contact;

Sam Zikman (

Regional Manager, Community Football – Greater Sydney