The AFL has rejected pleas to expand the women's competition next year

Brisbane Lions’ Kaitlyn Ashmore and Collingwood’s Moana Hope. Photo: Getty

Lobbying by Geelong and St Kilda to join the AFL Women’s competition next year has failed, with the the AFL any further expansion to the eight-club competition until 2019.

The organisation says it “wants a year of consolidation after a successful first season” and that the priorites are talent identification and development, and building the fan base.

CEO Gillon McLachlan said: “We need to further invest in both building our audience and ensuring the talent pool can expand to be ready for the addition of new teams in 2019”.

The 10 remaining clubs will be invited to bid for inclusion, with priority given to Geelong, St Kilda, North Melbourne, Richmond, St Kilda and West Coast, which were given provisional licenses last year, the organisation said

A decision on expansion for the third season is expected by the middle of 2017.

“Announcing the expansion teams later this year will allow the competition to finalise its list-build rules for the new clubs before this year’s draft,” McLachlan said.

The decision on whether to expand in 2018 forced the AFLW free agency and trade period to be delayed until May 15.

Nearly 200,000 people went to the 29 AFLW matches in the debut year with a cumulative 5.64 million watching the games on TV.

The Crows beat the Lions in the inaugural AFLW Grand Final.

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