'Unacceptable': Premier's furious response to Tasmania AFL report

·4-min read
AFL CEO Gillon McLachlan has been discussing the latest report about expansion into Tasmania. Pic: Getty
AFL CEO Gillon McLachlan has been discussing the latest report about expansion into Tasmania. Pic: Getty

Tasmanian premier Peter Gutwein has issued an extraordinary threat to the AFL in response to a new report about expanding the competition.

An independent report has found there is a strong case for a Tasmanian AFL/AFLW team, but says relocating an existing team or setting up a "joint venture" with a Victorian club would be more sustainable than adding a 19th franchise.

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Former Geelong president Colin Carter released his findings on Friday which found a strong presence was needed in Tasmania.

The report outlined three options: a stand-alone team, a relocated team or a "joint venture", where a team would split games between Tasmania and Melbourne.

"The case can be made for a 19th licence," AFL chief executive Gillon McLachlan said on Friday, though adding the best form of that team was less clear-cut.

"But re-location of an existing team if a club is prepared to take that path or a joint venture between Tasmanian stakeholders and a Victorian team that secures strong support in two markets from the outset, would arguably produce a more sustainable outcome and therefore should be considered before a 19th licence."

Tasmania's premier says while he agrees that the AFL needs a concrete presence in the state, he's furious with footy bosses for not putting a concrete timeframe on it happening.

Mr Gutwein even went as far as suggesting that existing contracts with Hawthorn and North Melbourne to play games in Tasmania would be in jeopardy if the AFL can't provide a more concrete commitment and timeframe.

“That immediate response from them I don’t think is good enough,” Gutwein said.

“I’m very disappointed with the AFL this morning. This is unacceptable, I’ve been clear from the outset we need a timeline.

“We will not finalise those contracts, we will not roll them over with Hawthorn and North Melbourne until we have a starting point from the AFL … in regards to a new Tasmanian AFL team.

“Once again they’ve attempted to kick the can down the road. We don’t want to rent our own team, we want our own team.

Tasmanian premier Peter Gutwein has hit out at the AFL over the latest expansion report. Pic: Getty
Tasmanian premier Peter Gutwein has hit out at the AFL over the latest expansion report. Pic: Getty

The Tasmanian premier said the state's strong AFL history and passion for the code means it deserves representation in the AFL and AFLW.

"Our preference very clearly is for the licence for a standalone Tasmanian team … so as far as the state's concerned [a joint venture] is not an option."

"I'm annoyed," he said.

"This is 30 years of frustration … from a community … once again it appears to have been treated with disrespect in my view."

Report favours relocation over standalone Tasmania side

Carter, who undertook a fact-finding trip to the Apple Isle in May, had examined the business plan for a Tasmanian side which was presented by the state government to the AFL last year.

That business plan had found a process that culminated in a side entering the AFL in 2025 stacked up financially.

But Carter's report said a standalone Tasmanian team would rank in the lower-middle section of the AFL's "wealth ladder" while a relocated Victorian team would sit in the middle ranking and be in a "formidable" position due to having support in both Melbourne and the Apple Isle.

The report was generally positive and adamant having a presence in Tasmania was "the right thing to do", sentiments endorsed by McLachlan who emphasised any team needed to be "strong and sustainable."

There is no set time frame for a decision on any of the three options or for existing clubs to make big calls on their futures.

McLachlan stressed clubs wouldn't be pressured to make such big decisions amid the enhanced financial stress of the COVID-19 pandemic, while he categorically ruled out relocating the Gold Coast Suns.

"The Suns are not moving from the Gold Coast and that's definitive," he said.

with AAP

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