Canberra Demons coach Kade Klemke is concerned for the future of Australia football in the capital after the club pulled the pin on being part of the VFL.
The opportunity to play in the second-tier NEAFL competition is what brought Klemke to Canberra in the first place and he was worried that opportunity would be lost to others.
Eastlake president Lorin Joyce announced on Tuesday they would no longer be able to fund the Demons, who spent the past five years playing in the NEAFL.
The AFL announced last week they were scrapping the NEAFL - which was formed for the benefit of the four AFL teams in NSW and Queensland in 2011 - and instead expanding the VFL to be more of an eastern seaboard competition.
The Demons had the opportunity to be part of that, but the economic environment has made that impossible.
It means there's no longer a clear stepping stone between the AFL Canberra competitions and the AFL.
"Obviously, there's a bit of concern, I think. I came to this region for that purpose, for footy, and I know a lot of guys came to this region to play state league footy," Klemke said.
"If there's no pathway or no opportunities we're gonna lose these guys to other sports and I don't think the AFL wants that."
Klemke was grateful for the opportunity the Demons had given him to be a part of it while it lasted.
He was still hopeful a new pathway could be created for the Canberra region, which includes his native Riverina - where the impact of the decision will also be felt.
Players will now have to move to either Melbourne, Adelaide or Perth to play second-tier football.
"I'd still love to see something here. Canberra's a capital city, not to have a state league AFL team would be heartbreaking for this region and not just Canberra also NSW," Klemke said.
"I know there's a lot of guys in our side that are shattered from this news and would love an opportunity to be playing in this new competition so, if there's any way that we can make it work I'd love to support that."
Joyce said that even though they'd opted out of joining the VFL, he was still in talks with the AFL as to how a new pathway could be created.
He said there were several reasons preventing them - not just financial.
There was also the uncertainty surrounding interstate travel - especially to Victoria.
"I suppose it's as much about the Canberra Demons as it is about the Canberra region and having a pathway for talented players, so we don't lose those talented players to other parts of Australia," Joyce said.
"Now the conversations with the AFL we're having are, 'OK, well what does it look like moving forward?' Especially for NSW [and the] ACT.
"So we're working closely with them now to work out what are the pathway opportunities.
"For next year there's hope that I'd say within six months there will be some more certainty around what the future looks like for a state-level competition, and ability for players in the ACT to play at that level while staying in the region."