The AFL was formerly known as the Victorian Football League (VFL). It was renamed the Australian Football League due to the VFL’s governing body’s decision to market the competition as an officially national league in 1990. This was following expansion into New South Wales, Queensland and Western Australia in the 1980s.
Through the AFL Commission it gained control over the game at most levels and controls the Laws of the Game through the AFL Rules Committee (consisting of members from the AFL Players Association). The Commission pushes for all affiliated leagues and bodies to co-brand with the league (although some state and local associations have sternly resisted). The AFL is also recognised as the world governing body of Australian football by the majority of larger international leagues.
The AFL is the most attended sporting league in Australia and one of the two most watched sports in Australia.It is also currently the fourth-most attended professional sports league in the world in terms of attendance per match, with an average attendance of 38,417. It is also the most financially strong sports league in the country due to substantial media and corporate sponsorship arrangements.
In national terms, however, Australian football is not the most popular sport in all areas of the country. In recent decades, the AFL has increasingly focused on regions behind the “Barassi Line”, particularly in metropolitan areas (its “developing markets”) where the league and sport has traditionally struggled. The league has granted concessions to teams based in these regions and invested large amounts of development funding. As a result participation is increasing in New South Wales and Queensland.