The decline of the VFA may be said to have commenced in 1982 when the VFL moved the struggling South Melbourne Swans to Sydney. All Sydney Swans home games were played on Sunday and televised. This move basically destroyed the VFA's television ratings, and in 1986 Network Ten stopped broadcasting matches. This role was later taken on by the ABC, but on a much lower-profile basis. VFA support declined. Increasing player payments and declining financial support and sponsorship forced clubs to leave the association, many unable to finish seasons. With fifteen teams remaining at the start of 1989, the VFA reverted to a single division.
In 1989, after the Seven Network was given exclusive rights to broadcast VFL/AFL, the ABC increased its television commitment to the VFA in lieu of telecasting the VFL/AFL games. It attracted good ratings. Despite this, the early 1990s was a difficult period for the association, with many sides, including stalwart sides such as Oakleigh, Prahran and Dandenong leaving the competition or becoming defunct, and others, such as Williamstown, on the verge of folding.
At its nadir in 1995, only nine teams remained. These clubs had joined in various eras. Two (Port Melbourne and Williamstown) had been in the VFA prior to 1897, three (Preston, Coburg and Sandringham) represented the 1920s expansion, and four (Box Hill, Frankston, Springvale and Werribee) were addmitted during the last few decades.
In 1990, the VFL renamed itself the Australian Football League. The VFA evolved into the Victorian Football League in 1995, a change which caused much debate at the time. The new VFL adopted the original League logo, but featured a gold "V" and football, to reflect the colours of the former VFA logo. The logo reverted to the original VFL's blue and white, a few years later.
In 1996, the VFL began a period of expansion into regional areas, with existing powerhouse country clubs North Ballarat and Traralgon joining the nine existing teams. Traralgon's tenure was short-lived but they were soon replaced by another regional club, Bendigo.
Read more about this topic: Victorian Football League, History
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