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Tasmania pushes AFL relocation

Tasmania is pushing for one Melbourne-based AFL club to commit to a ''semi-relocation'' by playing eight games annually in the state, which also hopes to one day have its own team.

No longer satisfied with Hawthorn and North Melbourne playing a total of seven games between them each season down south, AFL Tasmania chief executive Scott Wade has a plan for one to make a more profound leap over Bass Strait.

While Hawthorn had earned the right to first option after a 13-year association with Tasmania, Wade summarised the lasting meaning of that relationship bluntly.

''Hawthorn is a club that has been good for Tasmania, and we've been good to Hawthorn. But is Hawthorn our club? Definitely not,'' Wade told Fairfax Media.

''We're saying unashamedly that we still want our own team. But the current model is just not the best outcome. And it certainly doesn't add any value to our talent pathway.

''To the best of everyone's knowledge, there's not going to be any additional [AFL club] licences available over the next 10 or 15 years. So therefore we are asking: what is the next step towards Tasmania's own team?

''We've come to the conclusion that the next step towards having our own team is having one club that embraces Tasmania as that club's primary development market.''

AFL Tasmania tabled a new strategy this week, titled ''Building a Strong Future with AFL Football'', which outlines its vision. While the AFL deputy CEO Gillon McLachlan would not comment on Thursday, Wade said he was ''confident that the AFL is willing to have a very serious look at this''.

Wade said it was unlikely Hawthorn, one of the richest clubs, would want to increase the games it plays in Launceston from four, a deal the club has until the end of 2016.

''We think there are other clubs who should give this serious consideration,'' he said.

''St Kilda and Richmond, followed by Hawthorn, really have the strongest relationship and affinity with Tasmania.''

AFL Tasmania director James Henderson has raised the cash-strapped Western Bulldogs, Melbourne and St Kilda as the best fits for the state. Tasmanian Sports Minister Michelle O'Byrne has welcomed the one-team proposal.

(St Kilda played ''home'' games in Launceston between 2003 and 2006, but has just embarked on a pioneering deal to play in New Zealand.)

Acknowledging that moving eight home games, split Hobart-Launceston, would be akin to a ''semi-relocation'' for a Melbourne club, Wade said: ''When we present our final proposal it hopefully validates … that Tasmania can be a legitimate market for an AFL club to prosper … you could be in the scenario where you're like South Melbourne, and you pack up and go to Sydney, or there's an alternative option where you can actually remain in the state (of Victoria) but you embrace Tasmania as your primary development market.''

Hawthorn's deal with Tasmania has made the club a small fortune. North Melbourne signed a three-year deal - to expire at the end of 2014 - to play two home-and-away games a year in Hobart. The AFL, in 2010, tried to broker a deal for North to play seven games a season shared between Launceston and Hobart. This was rejected by North's James Brayshaw-led administration.

In a significant departure from the party line it has historically taken, a more emboldened AFL Tasmania has resolved it is no longer satisfactory - in Wade's words - to ''maintain the status quo'' by continuing to merely be grateful for Hawthorn and North Melbourne's regular presence.

''Agreements can be torn up and changed any time,'' Wade said, but he conceded it was unlikely a Melbourne team would play eight home games in Tasmania per season before the Hawks deal expired in 2016.

81 comments

  • I have a better idea - relocate GWS Giants to Tasmania. At least they will get some crowds who care about them and they will be wanted by the population.

    Commenter
    Punters Pal
    Date and time
    June 28, 2013, 7:52AM
    • Agreed - but can we pretend the GWS didn't even exist and just give us the money and the team. The jumpers will make good training gear for a few years.

      Commenter
      kepler 22b
      Location
      hobart
      Date and time
      June 28, 2013, 9:19AM
    • 100% agree. Spot on. West sydney doesnt give a rats about AFL, I grew up there.

      But then again, I like tassie, you wouldnt be that cruel to Tasmanians would you?

      Maybe Tassie Demons?

      But then again, I like tassie, you wouldnt be that cruel to Tasmanians would you?

      Commenter
      Davo
      Location
      Langers
      Date and time
      June 28, 2013, 9:37AM
    • Great Idea @Punters Pal! They can change their name to FSS Giants as they are Far South of Sydney. They may get much healthier crowds than GWS but will still need plenty of AFL financial help becuase the Apple Isle is broke and the people are poor!

      Commenter
      Craig
      Location
      Mordialloc
      Date and time
      June 28, 2013, 10:06AM
    • GWS has 12,000 members already. If they start winning a few games (next year and the year after) this will surely grow.

      Commenter
      Mick
      Date and time
      June 28, 2013, 10:12AM
    • GWS will become THE greatest folly in the history of the AFL. Even if they win a flag in a few years will not increase their market. Tassie should have been the logical choice. Cut their losses now and send the Greater Wank Squad to Tassie. So rediculous.

      Commenter
      Daz
      Location
      Sth Gippsland
      Date and time
      June 28, 2013, 10:12AM
    • GWS will be fine in about 3 years and with success will come the band wagon. See Brisbane Lions for example their crowd number more than double when they are winning.

      Commenter
      max2
      Location
      melb
      Date and time
      June 28, 2013, 11:00AM
    • Absolutely right! What else do you know?
      If these guys want to relocate a Melbourne team I suggest they don't understand enough about football to have a team.

      Commenter
      Bill
      Location
      Melbourne
      Date and time
      June 28, 2013, 11:07AM
    • Sydney in general didn't give a rats when South Melbourne went there 30 years ago. Now look at them.

      Vision people, vision... not just the tip of your nose.

      Commenter
      Vista
      Date and time
      June 28, 2013, 11:10AM
    • Why not shift MFC to Hobart to become the "tassie demons" and likewise GWS can replace them as the new "Melbourne Giants" an untarnished brand flush with AFL cash...it might actually work.

      Commenter
      Footy Pragmatist
      Date and time
      June 28, 2013, 11:14AM

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