The Canberra Demons were not only blindsided, but also left scratching their heads with more questions than answers following the scrapping of the NEAFL.
The AFL announced they would get rid of the second-tier competition and merge it into the VFL for 2021.
But not only did the AFL fail to discuss the announcement with the Demons - or the NEAFL employees they made redundant on Monday - they didn't tell them what it meant for them going forward.
The plan is for the 14 AFL clubs based on the eastern seaboard - including the GWS Giants and Sydney Swans - to use the VFL as a second-tier competition with the possibility of either having their own standalone team, forming an alliance with an existing second-tier club or spreading their players across several clubs.
But whether there's the possibility for the Demons to be one of those second-tier clubs in the VFL - or whether it meant the end for them - was unclear.
Given there had been no forewarning or discussion with the Demons since the NEAFL was cancelled for 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic, they weren't in a position to speculate what it meant for their future.
The NEAFL announcement was part of a significant restructure of AFL pathways and state leagues announced on Monday.
The AFL and AFLW minimum draft age will remain at 18, but the elite underage competitions will be "refocused" to under-19 and under-17 levels.
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They had previously operated as under-18 and under-16 programs.
Western Bulldogs coach Beveridge has been one of many prominent advocates for raising the AFL draft age, describing it this year as "an absolute no-brainer".
Despite his presence on the AFL talent committee, the mooted move was rejected in a review of elite junior pathways.
Next Generation academies, which target Indigenous and multicultural players, will be implemented by the AFL talent pathway team with support from AFL clubs.
Northern club academies - which feed Sydney, Greater Western Sydney, Brisbane and Gold Coast - will be provided with greater responsibility and investment.
The reduced AFL football department soft cap - part of the fallout from the financial crisis brought about by the COVID-19 virus - will be a key factor in clubs' decisions on how they will use the VFL.
Earlier this year, North Melbourne abandoned their VFL program after just two seasons and Carlton pulled out of their long-standing relationship with the Northern Blues, formerly known as Preston.
The AFL remains in conversations with the WAFL and SANFL over what second-tier structures will be put in place for West Coast, Fremantle, Adelaide and Port Adelaide beyond this year.
Those state leagues are independent and will have final say on any changes to existing structures.
The AFL said the model for second-tier women's football in Victoria is still under review.
Richmond announced on Monday they will not field a team in the VFLW competition next season, preferring to focus available resources for women's football on their AFLW program. with AAP.