UPDATE: The AFL has added North Melbourne and Geelong to the AFL Women's competition for 2019, with four more clubs to enter in 2020.
AFL chief Gillon McLachan announced the addition of North Melbourne and the Cats for the 2019 season, with Gold Coast, West Coast, St Kilda and Richmond to enter the AFLW in 2020.
Cats CEO Brian Cook said it was an inspirational day not just for the club, but the region of Geelong.
"It means more to our region outside the footy club. We are more meaningful to our society, to our community, to women," he said, adding that they would be the first club to field four teams.
Essendon and Hawthorn could receive licences for the 2021 season.
West Coast reacted angrily to missing out on a place in 2019.
"The West Coast Eagles are bitterly disappointed with the AFL's decision to postpone the club's entry into the AFLW competition until the 2020 season," a club statement said.
"The West Coast Eagles have channelled a great deal of energy into growing female pathways for women in the game, particularly in Western Australia, and we believe our submission clearly demonstrated our capacity to have a profound effect on the growth of AFLW from 2019.
"Like us, we expect that Western Australian female footballers will be disappointed that their football pathway has been delayed but we are committed to continuing to support them through our West Coast Eagles Female Academy."
North Melbourne CEO Carl Dilena said his club was celebrating what was "without a doubt a new era for the club".
Fairfax Media had earlier reported that Tasmania loomed as a big winner as the AFL prepares to expand the AFL Women's competition in readiness for 2019, with the long-neglected football state set to win a national licence in a joint bid with North Melbourne.
The AFL faces a strong backlash from a number of clubs should that be the case, with Richmond and St Kilda foreshadowing their strong disappointment after being left out of the inaugural eight-team AFLW and strongly pushing their cases after being granted provisional licences in 2016.
A successful North Melbourne-Tasmania bid means a hybrid team would play four games in each state with a view to ultimately developing enough talent in Tasmania to fill half the team with local players. At least two and potentially three young players are likely to be drafted into the women's team — more than are expected to be taken in the national AFL men's draft.
Negotiations continue between North and the Tasmanian Government over the naming of the new team, which looks likely to play as the Tasmanian Kangaroos.
Tigers CEO Brendon Gale pointed recently to the momentum a Richmond team could have on the competition and said he feared the club could prove a victim of its own success should the AFL favour a smaller club.
Caroline Wilson has been chief football writer for The Age since 1999. She was the first woman to cover Australian Rules football on a full-time basis and the first woman to win the AFL's gold media award. She has won the AFL Players' Association's football writer of the year (1999) and the AFL Media Association's most outstanding football writer and most outstanding feature writer (2000, 2003, 2005). In 2014 she won the Melbourne Press Club's Graham Perkin award as Australian journalist of the year. She also won a MPC Quill Award in 2003.