The VFL was had it's first season in 1897, between 8 teams: Collin gwood, Essendon, Fitzroy, Geelong, Melbourne, South Melbourne, Carlton and St Kilda.
in 1908 two more teams entered the VFL, richmond and University. after 7 years, University left the VFL and became an amateur team in the local VAFA competition. In 1925 3 more teams joined, Hawthorn, Footscray and North Melbourne joined.
The VFL was created in order to provide another competition for the more popular and influential clubs in Victoria, allowing them to play the best teams in a finals series, rather than the team who finishes in top of the ladder being the overall winner.
Mergers and relocations have been able to help the VFL expand without being forced to create completely new franchises, case in point, the Sydney Swans, who moved from South Melbourne due to struggling off field from financial troubles. The VFL allowed them to move to Sydney to expand their supporter base and become the first interstate VFL side.