Hawks determined to play Tassie AFL games

Oliver Caffrey
Hawks president Jeff Kennett says they are keen to play in Tasmania even without fans

Hawthorn president Jeff Kennett has hit out at Tasmanian premier Peter Gutwein for suggesting the state is unwilling to host AFL games without crowds.

The Hawks were due to play four home games at Launceston's UTAS Stadium this year as part of their long-running agreement with the Tasmanian government.

Hawthorn's current five-year deal in Tasmania is worth $20 million.

But with the season on hold because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the 2020 fixture will be reworked ahead of games recommencing as soon as the end of June.

Kennett said Hawthorn are determined to fulfil their commitments on the Apple Isle - with or without crowds.

Spectators are unlikely to be allowed into grounds in most states and territories until at least next year.

"I'm seeing in the papers some people down there saying 'if you can't have crowds, there's no point playing'," Kennett told SEN.

"I've got to say that's very short-sighted and very selfish.

"But if they don't want football down there, that's fine, but Hawthorn do want to play there.

"We've argued with the AFL that we want to play games there this season."

Gutwein said he would be hesitant for AFL games to be played in the state under a fly-in, fly-out model.

North Melbourne were also due to host four games at Hobart's Blundstone Oval this year.

"I'm not in a rush to have AFL played here in front of empty stadiums," Gutwein told reporters on Wednesday.

"I will not increase the risk on Tasmanians by allowing a model like this to occur if the advice is that the risk will increase."

Meanwhile, Tasmania's push for a team received a fillip on Thursday, with a legislative council committee report finding it would deliver the state substantial economic and social benefits.

Former AFL boss Andrew Demetriou had told the state committee he understood Tasmania's desire to have their own club.

"If the people are saying they don't want a relocated team and they want a homegrown team, you have to listen to that," he said.

The optimal time for Tasmania to establish a team is 2025 in line with TV deal negotiations, the report suggested.