The AFL Central West has managed to continue with its planned expansion for two men's tiers in 2020 as well as boost numbers in junior competitions as it takes advantage of rugby league competitions across the region being cancelled.
Team nominations were due earlier this week, with no senior teams pulling out of the 2020 competition as a result of coronavirus, allowing the league to forge ahead with plans for a top tier and plate division in the men's to continue as planned.
Dubbo Demons, Orange Tigers and Bathurst Bushrangers and Giants will form the top tier while Parkes and Cowra will join a Tigers and two Bushrangers outfits in the plate division.
A revamped under-17s competition will also have double the teams of 2019 as Bathurst Bushrangers and Cowra Blues join Orange Tigers and Bathurst Giants.
The women's competition will also continue, with Orange, Cowra, and both Bathurst clubs joined by the returning Dubbo Demons outfit, who withdrew in 2019 the year after winning the premiership.
Both Bathurst clubs and Orange will submit youth girls teams, while all clubs bar Parkes will have under 12s and 14s sides.
Draft fixtures will be sent to all clubs early in the week for review before an official fixture is released on July 10, just a week out from round one on July 18.
AFLCW general manager Rebecca Marshall said it was "very exciting" to have the competition locked in and never doubted the league would see a second tier running around for the first time in five years.
"I was confident the whole way through and it's good to see," she said.
"We had systems in place pre-COVID and it's good to see we've been able to keep them going.
"In a year of so much disruption we've been able to expand the competition."
Marshall said there'd been several players looking to jump across from other codes which had had their seasons cancelled.
"Having the second tier up and running has helped a bit with that as well as people have thought this could be the year to try something a bit different," she said.
However, the crucial growth for the long-term future of the competition was reinstating four teams in reserve grade.
"The under 17s was key, we're really excited for that and that was something we really wanted restored," she said.
The season begins July 18.
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