THE SANFL has confirmed Port Adelaide’s participation in the competition for season 2021 along with some rule changes that will impact on how it makes up its supplementary playing list.

The competition confirmed that the season will commence on the Easter weekend from Thursday 1 April, 2021 and will consist of 18 home and away matches and three bye rounds.

It will revert back to a top five series played over four weeks with Adelaide and Port Adelaide’s return after being unable to participate at SANFL level due to the AFL’s COVID-19 restrictions in 2020.

The fixtures are due to be released by early February depending on the AFL fixture.

There are also significant rule changes around the salary cap, which will reduce from $10,000 to $5,000 with players to be paid a maximum match payment of $250, down from $450 in 2019.

The nominated marquee player, or leadership player, will be permitted a maximum base payment of $15,000, down from $20,000 and a match payment of $300, down from $500.

Port Adelaide General Manager – Football, Chris Davies said the club had accepted the changes.

“We were able to put a position forward to the SANFL,” he said on Adelaide radio on Tuesday evening.

“I don’t think the rules they’ve put together are too far away from what we asked.

“I guess the fundamental thing for us is that we want to be in a competition that we can win. Port Adelaide has a history of success at SANFL level and to us the integrity of the competition means that every team, whether it be West Adelaide, South Adelaide, Adelaide or Port Adelaide need to have the opportunity to be competitive and to win the competition in any given year.

“That’s what we continue to ask of the SANFL. If that was to ever change and we felt that we weren’t getting the opportunity to win at that level, then we’d reconsider our involvement but right now I think we’re in a position where the SANFL have made the changes as they see fit and how they play out will be interesting to see.”

Davies explained that keeping the leadership player was an important part of the new rules given AFL list sizes and the salary cap have been cut.

Among the other changes are that any player who has been on an AFL list in the last two seasons will be ineligible to be on the club’s SANFL supplementary list unless they become the leadership player.

Tyson Goldsack was to be the leadership player in 2020 but the lack of participation in the competition meant he never represented the club and only carried out his other role as a development coach with the AFL side.

Davies explained that the rule would preclude Cam Sutcliffe and Port Adelaide junior Tim Broomhead – who has left Collingwood - from being part of the supplementary list after his AFL delisting unless they replaced Goldsack as the leadership player.

The club’s leadership player will be considered in the coming weeks along with the make-up of the rest of the supplementary list.

“We were already in a situation where our list, AFL mandated, is going to be reduced by two,” Davies said.

“By extension that means we are going to need two more players to play at SANFL level each week.

“Again, it’s one of the levers the SANFL can pull in regards to our competitiveness at that level.

“The reality of the rules as they currently sit is that it’s hard for both Adelaide and Port Adelaide to get players who aren’t effectively off other clubs’ SANFL lists so another SANFL club or that player will have had to have spent time away from a SANFL club or be deemed not to be good enough to be on a SANFL club’s list for them to be part of ours.”

The last updated rule of significance relates to the finals eligibility of players.

AFL listed players must have played more minor round games in the SANFL than the AFL throughout the season as well as playing at least three games in the SANFL after the halfway point of the regular season to participate in finals.