The AFL Central West won't be budging from a 16-a-side competition in 2020 after the league announced over the weekend it would cut player numbers from 18 to 16 on the field and six to three on the bench.
AFL NSW/ACT leagues and community sustainability manager Cam Borgas said there were a "range of factors" playing into the decision to have 16 on the field as the league switches to a two-tiered competition in 2020.
It's looking increasingly likely the league will have two tiers of four sides in 2020, with the potential for one tier of five should the Dubbo Demons get a second side off the ground.
Borgas said moving to 16-a-side would help the game grow in the region and increase the "scale" of the competition, while also decreasing the likelihood of forfeits and improve competitive balance.
"We're confident it's the time to build scale and 16-a-side is the best way to do that," Borgas said.
"Fifteen or 16 leagues across the country use it and the message has been overwhelmingly positive."
He said despite some pushing back against the move the reaction had been "generally positive" and the league is "happy where (conversation) is at".
"The data indicates 16-a-side is the best way to grow the game," he said.
The league is looking to continue building more sides in the region into the future, and having 19 needed each week lowers the barriers for new clubs to join, or for clubs like the Mudgee Black Swans - who left in 2016 - to return to the competition.
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