Anthony Albanese dragged into AFL expansion controversy

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese (pictured right) speaking at a conference and (pictured left) Gillon McLachlan during an AFL press conference.
Prime Minister Anthony Albanese (pictured right) has weighed-in on the AFL debate, led by Gillon McLachlan (pictured left), around expanding to Tasmania. (Getty Images)

Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has weighed in on the AFL's pending decision for a 19th team after throwing his support behind Tasmania.

The AFL is set to meet with club presidents before September 6 in a bid to discuss the expansion of the league.

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Outgoing AFL boss Gillon McLachlan has not confirmed on whether there will be a vote to determine if Tasmania is approved as the 19th team at the next meeting.

Discussions surrounding a new stadium in Hobart remain one of the biggest obstacles - with a new stadium estimated to cost around $750 million - and no final proposal has been delivered to club presidents.

But ahead of the meeting, the question on whether Tasmania deserve a permanent team has been put to the prime minister.

Albanese was asked whether Tasmania deserve to be in the AFL and the prime minster was adamant.

“I hope Tassie does get an AFL team. Tasmania has produced some great champions in AFL over a long period of time,” Albanese said at the National Press Club on Monday.

“They’ve had of course Hawthorn, the team I support, who played at - I’m not sure what it’s called these days, it was Aurora Stadium at one stage, in Launny (Launceston). And of course North who play in Hobart.

“But that’s a decision for the AFL to make.”

Gillon McLachlan reiterates stadium hurdle for Hobart

Earlier this month, Tasmania Premier Jeremy Rockliff indicated a new stadium would not be part of the state's formal proposal to be put before the 18 AFL club presidents.

But the state government is undertaking a $1.25 million feasibility study into a new stadium, which it estimates could cost around $750 million.

McLachlan has previously indicated the success of Tasmania's bid is contingent on the development of a new stadium and on Monday said "nothing's changed" in that regard.

"What form that takes, whether it's a conditional issue or something more definitive, we'll work through that," McLachlan told reporters at the AFL finals launch event.

Gillon McLachlan, Chief Executive Officer of the AFL, speaks to the media.
Gillon McLachlan, Chief Executive Officer of the AFL, remained steadfast on the need of a new stadium for a Tasmanian team. (Photo by Michael Willson/AFL Photos via Getty Images)

"This is our national game with incredible facilities and I know the Tasmanian government and Tasmanians expect to have that centrepiece of a functional facility of pride, the way Adelaide Oval is in South Australia, the way Optus (Stadium) is in Perth, the way the MCG and Marvel (Stadium) are for Melburnians.

"I don't think Tasmanians would want a team without a new stadium.

"That's what the deal's going to be and nothing's changed about that."

McLachlan refused to address media reports the league wanted more money from the Tasmania government, which has offered $150 million in funding, including $10 million a year over 10 years.

with AAP

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