The Sydney Swans have notified the AFL that the Club is not currently in a position to apply for a licence to operate a team in the National Women’s League.

The Sydney Swans are committed to broadening female participation at all levels of AFL football, however the Club is unable to provide the necessary infrastructure to support an elite women’s team in time for next year’s season launch.

The decision follows a detailed analysis of the budgetary, logistical and welfare requirements for a potential Sydney Swans women’s team in time for the 2017 season. The analysis identified significant challenges, most notably an absence of adequate training facilities.

The Sydney Swans are at maximum utilisation of their facility at the SCG and there is no capacity or space for an additional team to be housed at the Club’s headquarters.

Planning is underway for a new training and administration facility in the Moore Park Precinct, which will include provisions for both a Female Academy and a future NWL team, as well as the existing QBE Sydney Swans Academy and Indigenous Academy. However, the new facility is still some years away.

Swans Chief Executive and Managing Director Andrew Ireland said the advent of a National Women’s League is terrific for football, and the Swans are committed to participating in the league, but will defer their application for a licence until the Club is in a position to deliver a program to an elite standard. 

“We have thoroughly investigated all avenues to establish a women’s team by 2017 and our view has always been if we were going to do this, we were going to do it well,” Ireland said.

“We wanted to be able to give female footballers the opportunity to become part of the fabric of our football club; to enable them to train and grow in an elite environment with the same level of support afforded to our men’s team. To establish a team with anything less than that was never an option.

“Our greatest challenge is the absence of a training facility for a new team. Our men’s team is unable to train on the SCG for much of the proposed competition period and there is no viable alternative nearby. While we are in the process of planning a new training and administration facility, that facility is still some years away.

“At the Swans, we pride ourselves on our commitment to diversity and inclusion. We will continue working to build female talent in NSW and create opportunities for women in football. To that end, we are already exploring options for a Swans Female Academy.

“A Swans women’s team remains a pillar of our long-term strategy and we hope to be in a position to tender for the next round of licences.”

The Sydney Swans will present their detailed analysis on a potential women’s team to the AFL. The paper outlines the necessary steps for the Swans to participate in the NWL and the Club’s broader commitment to female football.