The region's community sport revival has received a much-needed boost after AFL North West committed to launching its season on July 18.
The expected announcement followed a Zoom meeting between AFL North West, AFL NSW/ACT and the clubs on Monday night.
Missing at the meeting was the Nomads, with AFL North West president Sonia Martin revealing the club will sit out the truncated season due to the impact of COVID-19 on their playing ranks.
Martin said the situation should serve as a "wakeup call" for the Nomads so they were not so reliant of UNE-sourced players.
She said: "They're a big town [Armidale], and bigger than a lot of our other towns that field up to four divisions.
"So, the pressure's sort of back on them to go, 'Well, you might have to go about things a little differently.'"
Nomads president Adrian Walsh fired back, saying: "I don't know if you can plan for circumstances like that [COVID-19]."
Besides, he said, half of the club's players did not attend UNE.
He added: "The university normally has a lot of students around.
"The majority of young people in town and around [it] would be students. It's just the demographics of Armidale."
It is unclear at this stage if any other clubs will fail to field a men's side. But Martin said all four divisions would be staged this year, including the women, under-16s and under-14s.
Martin said the makeup of the men's comp would be known by Friday week - the deadline for clubs to submit team nominations - with the draw then finalised.
She said the minimum number of teams required to stage a competition was four - and that would be met.
Martin preferred not to state whether she was confident all the other clubs would field a men's side.
"But the talk is pretty positive," she said. "Everyone wants lots of home-and-away games [and a shorter finals series]."
"Everyone understands it's gonna be different [this season] - it's not going to be perfect ... How the COVID easing progresses will have a big influence on the season as well."
In a boon for financially strapped clubs, Martin said AFL NSW/ACT would cover their insurance costs this season.
She said the beau geste would "make a big difference".
Martin said the No 1 issue for AFL North West was player and community safety, and "everyone wanting to be sure we were doing the right things and working within the right COVID protocols".
The "players just want to get out and play footy", she added.