ON THE RISE: Gympie Cat Henry Hamilton (pictured against Bay Power last year) is making great strides in the seniors.
ON THE RISE: Gympie Cat Henry Hamilton (pictured against Bay Power last year) is making great strides in the seniors. Leeroy Todd

What new AFL Queensland shake-up means for the Gympie Cats

AFL: A heart-wrenching two-point defeat to Redcliffe means the Gympie Cats' finals hopes are all but dashed this year but newly announced changes mean they can look ahead at their next season in the Queensland Football Association with a sense of optimism.

AFL Queensland announced this week that the sport would take on a "different look” across Southeast Queensland in 2020, with "a revamped competition structure that includes the incorporation of the four Northern Rivers teams into the new QFA model”.

A three-month review into the QFA Division 1, 2 and 3 competitions found the "promotion and relegation” structure, where teams moved leagues depending on performance, was "unsustainable long term due to the distances clubs may be asked to travel dependent on which division they are competing in”.

The lengthy process, which reportedly involved consultation with every club, has resulted in the Division 1 Hart Sport Cup remaining in its current form but will be underpinned by a Division 2 North and Division 2 South competition made up of the existing Division 2 and 3 teams.

The Cats are expected to be included in the North comp.

The AFLQ announcement stated "no clubs have been formally allocated to competitions, as AFL Queensland will go through a consultation process to understand where each club feels their best competition alignment is”.

AFLQ state manager of senior football operations Barry Gibson said the change needed to be made to address "significant challenges”.

"Having the club representatives driving the review process allowed us to ensure we developed a structure that addressed the majority of club concerns,” Mr Gibson said.

"It was clear there was a strong desire to develop a model that could be sustainable long term and one that didn't require constant review, however at the same time had some flexibility to deal with teams entering or leaving the competitions.”

The Cats will learn their fate once AFLQ works with all clubs to finalise team nominations and finals series structures in the coming months.

The governing body will also implement a salary cap and player points system for next season.

Playing in the Division 2 North competition would allow the 5-10 Cats, sitting eighth in their first season as part of the QFA, less travel time for next season's fixtures.