FREMANTLE, AUSTRALIA - JANUARY 31: Kiara Bowers of the Dockers looks to pass the ball under pressure from Alicia Eva of the Giants during the 2021 AFLW Round 01 match between the Fremantle Dockers and the GWS Giants at Fremantle Community Bank Oval on January 31, 2021 in Fremantle, Australia. (Photo by Will Russell/AFL Photos via Getty Images)

The AFLW will have 18 clubs by the end of 2023, with four more clubs to join the competition.

The AFL announced that the league will remain at 14 teams for next season, but Essendon, Hawthorn, Port Adelaide and the Sydney Swans - the four clubs currently without a women's license - will enter submissions the following campaign.

AFL chief Gillon McLachlan said clubs would need to meet a range of criteria to be granted an AFLW license.

"If they can get ready for season seven, they will come in and meet the submission if they meet the criteria. [If they are unsuccessful,] they will have to reapply and hit a threshold, but I'm confident we'll get them in by season eight," McLachlan said in a statement.

"Broadly, it's list build strategy, a whole-club look at how the program will be integrated into the club, the facilities are incredibly important, business model, corporate support, consumer support, the business case they're going to build out around it."

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2021 AFLW Grand Final - Adelaide v Brisbane
ADELAIDE, AUSTRALIA - APRIL 17: Lauren Arnell of the Lions celebrates a goal during the 2021 AFLW Grand Final match between the Adelaide Crows and the Brisbane Lions at Adelaide Oval on April 17, 2021 in Adelaide, Australia. (Photo by Michael Willson/AFL Photos via Getty Images)

The AFLW in its inaugural 2017 season had eight teams before expanding to 10 clubs in 2019 then 14 sides in 2020.

Furthermore, the AFL confirmed that next season's AFLW fixture would increase from nine rounds to 10, as well as three weeks of finals.

There will be no overlap with the AFL season either, with the women's campaign to start in December 2021 and run until mid-March.

"AFLW has significant momentum and we want to keep that momentum and bring the power and the supporter base behind all 18 clubs before the end of 2024," McLachlan said.

"The standard of play has continued to lift as we have expanded the competition and we are seeing more free-flowing and attacking football as more talent comes through the pathways."