The Illawarra Lions believe a move back to the second-tier Sydney AFL league will revitalise the club after a number of lean years in the top division.
Club president Debbie Brookfield welcomed a return to the first division, where the Lions won a premiership in 2004, after Sydney AFL decided to cut the number of teams in its premier competition from 12 to 10.
"First grade will still be playing in the Sydney League but they'll be playing in division one rather than the premier division," Brookfield said.
"It's an opportunity to rebuild.
"There's quite a lot of enthusiasm within the club to do that and the players are really supportive.
"They still want to play in a really good level competition but they're also a bit tired of getting beaten every game.
"They want the opportunity to rebuild and hopefully it will bring back a few of the players who haven't been as committed in the last couple of years."
The Lions have been perennial strugglers since entering the premier league in 2005 on the back of a first division premiership and Brookfield said the drop will allow the Lions to rebuild a winning culture.
"We feel that we'll be very strong in division one," she said.
"I think we need to spend some time getting some successes on the board and building a winning culture again.
"We've lost that a little bit. I know there were times this year that we were in a winning position and just dropped it in the last quarter.
"I think part of that is that people just aren't used to winning and haven't had it ingrained in them ... what it takes to win.
"Perhaps other clubs have that over us at the moment.
"If we're a bit more competitive, and start winning, there's something we can build on."
Illawarra will field a reserve grade side in the South Coast League, a move Brookfield believes will bolster the Lions reserve grade ranks.
"We've had some really good indications that we will get some players back," Brookfield said.
"We've struggled to fill our reserve grade team every week in the last few seasons.
"This season we had 71 different players play in our reserve grade team.
"I think it will take us at least two years, so we're planning on spending the next two seasons in division one," she said.