THE Queanbeyan Tigers are set to lose much of their core playing roster and their captain from next season onwards as the club pulls from the NEAFL competition just one year into its three year contract.
The announcement was made to players at team training on Tuesday night, with the club citing financial issues and acting in the best interests of the club as the reason for discontinuing its involvement with the second-tier competition.
It comes just two years after the club celebrated winning the NEAFL eastern conference in 2012, as well as recently upgrading its grandstand at Dairy Farmers Park.
The club's first grade squad will move down to the AFL Canberra first division competition, where it played before the NEAFL was created in 2011.
Football Club general manager Ron Fowlie confirmed to The Queanbeyan Age on Wednesday the NEAFL had informed it it was heading in a new direction, where each Canberra region NEAFL club would be asked to commit $150,000 per season towards a newly formed ACT representative side.
With less poker machine revenue and renovations happening at the Tigers Licensed Club, the major financial contributor to the football club, funds were far less this season, and Fowlie said this was why the club had to pull from the NEAFL.
"We couldn't continue in the competition because of the financial situation of the club at the present time," said Fowlie.
"To be competitive you need to be able to recruit some experienced players as well, and to do that you need financial backing, and we could see down the track we would not be able to invest in that."
The NEAFL plans to implement their re-structure after the 2016 season when each club's three year contract expires, but granted early releases to the Tigers, as well as the Belconnen Magpies and the Sydney Hills Eagles.
Fowlie admitted the club would lose most of its core playing group, many of whom had been recruited from interstate.
Both co-coaches in Josh Bryce, Kade Klemke, plus Toby Conroy and Jarrod Atkinson had come up from the Victorian Football League, while young guns Darcy Spinks, Brandon Lagana and Jarrod Thompson are part of the Greater Western Sydney Giants Academy.
With Canberra clubs Ainsle and Eastlake remaining in the NEAFL, there will be options for players to transfer.
While he could not yet confirm any player departures, Fowlie said it was a given as they did not want to drop down to the AFL Canberra competition.
"There's no fear, it's knowing we will lose those players," he said.
"A lot of them will now go to other NEAFL clubs in Canberra, or they might go back to where they were recruited from."
Bryce was recruited from VFL club Werribee in 2012, and had an immediate impact with fellow VFL recruit Klemke, taking out the 2012 eastern conference.
Knowing he and Klemke had both made the big move to lead the club in the NEAFL, he said it was a shame that would not continue, but confirmed he would stay living in Queanbeyan.
"I can't see myself playing for Ainslie or Eastlake, but they're the only NEAFL options in Canberra. I can't see myself leaving Canberra now," he said.
Club captain Ryan Quade said he would now consider retirement after conceding it had been "a very stressful year of football."
"I'm really looking forward to having a break [after last three matches] and then assessing options from there," he said.