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Bombers, Hawks push for AFLW teams amid financial upheaval

“Clearly our industry has been presented with significant challenges, but we are committed to women’s football at the elite AFLW level and we are keen to get clarity on what timelines around entry into the competition look like sooner rather than later.”

Hawthorn chief executive Justin Reeves said entering the AFLW by 2023 at the latest was “non-negotiable”.

Essendon VFLW players, Indigenous and non-indigenous, participate in a Unity dance prior to the VFLW match between Richmond and Essendon at Punt Road in 2018.

Essendon VFLW players, Indigenous and non-indigenous, participate in a Unity dance prior to the VFLW match between Richmond and Essendon at Punt Road in 2018.Credit:Chris Hopkins

“Hawthorn remains committed to securing a licence in the AFLW competition. We have not wavered on this in our ongoing discussions with the AFL and we continue to press the AFL for earlier entry for Hawthorn to field an AFLW team,” Reeves told The Age.

“We will continue to advocate this point with the AFL, but we want it [to] be incredibly clear to our supporters and members that we remain committed to fielding a team in the AFLW and would like to do so as soon as possible. We have not taken a backwards step with regards to this.”

Campbell added that the upgrade to Essendon’s training facility in Tullamarine in the next 12 months would make it likely the Bombers had the “most significant women’s training facilities in the competition”.

Reeves also said Hawthorn’s good financial position and their strong VFLW program would see the Hawks be a “strong, unassisted”addition to the AFLW.

“This program will ensure we can hit the ground running,” he said.

Essendon joined the VFLW in 2018 while the Box Hill Hawks joined in 2017 before adopting the name Hawthorn in 2018.

Hawthorn won the VFLW premiership in 2018 when they defeated Geelong by 13 points at Marvel Stadium.

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The Age reported on Wednesday that the AFLPA and AFL had met to chart a path forward for the women’s competition. Players on one-year contracts – comprising most of the AFLW cohort and all 2019 draftees – will see those deals expire on Sunday.

Players on two-year contracts will remain on those deals past Sunday despite uncertainty around the VFLW season and player signing and trade periods, both of which would normally have begun.

The AFLW grew from 10 teams to 14 teams in 2020 with the addition of Gold Coast, Richmond, St Kilda and West Coast.

Reports have suggested two teams would be introduced in 2022 and two in 2024 and that an update on this process would be provided in the middle of this year.

Sydney and Port Adelaide also don’t have an AFLW team. The AFL has been contacted for comment.

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