“… In line with government and AFL protocols, in order to have continuity in game play and improve their possibility for selection,” a league statement read.
List sizes vary but some clubs have up to 47 players when you factor in rookies.
If a team has a completely healthy list, that means up to 25-listed players per club could miss out on a game each week.
Scratch matches would allow AFL players to stay match-fit and push their case for selection outside of training.
Eight of the 10 Victorian-based clubs fielded their own VFL reserves teams last year, but some part-time footballers are involved in those sides.
The AFL’s other eight teams all have lower-level teams in their name, except for Fremantle whose footballers play with Peel Thunder in the WAFL.
It would be near impossible to safely combine the professional and semi-professional environments and adhere to strict medical protocols.
Port Adelaide chief executive Keith Thomas said he was disappointed the club could not compete in the SANFL in its 150th anniversary year.
“We are a foundation club of the SANFL and proud of this heritage. We look forward to continuing that legacy in the SANFL in 2021,” Thomas said.
“It is unfortunate, but it’s a necessary measure to protect our people.”