AFL rejects Tasmanian demand, premier furious

The AFL has rejected Tasmania’s demand for a clear timeline towards a standalone team in Tasmania with a furious state premier Peter Gutwein saying the league’s response added “insult to injury” and was “simply not good enough”.

In a letter to the premier AFL CEO Gillon McLachlan said a review of the taskforce’s submission stalled last year as a result of COVID-19 and would not be completed until late 2021 or early 2022, with the AFL to appoint an independent consultant to lead the review.

Tasmanian Premier Peter Gutwein.Credit:Alex Ellinghausen

That decision has enraged Gutwein who has said he is unwilling to extend multimillion-dollar deals with Hawthorn and North Melbourne to play games in Tasmania beyond 2021 unless a timeline is provided.

He said it “beggars belief” that the league was yet to formulate a considered response having had the submission since early last year just before COVID-19 struck, saying “the response received from the AFL is simply not good enough”.

“As a footballing heartland state we have paid our dues and deserve much better. We have supported the AFL and before them the VFL, providing some of the best talent to play the game and it’s now time for the AFL to treat Tasmania fairly,” Gutwein said.

“As there is significant interest in this matter in Tasmania I am releasing the response from the AFL and I will be seeking a meeting with Mr McLachlan at the earliest opportunity to continue to press our case.″⁣

McLachlan acknowledged the impact the delay might have on the government’s ability to progress negotiations with the Hawks and the Kangaroos, writing “if that remains an issue, we would propose the AFL deal directly with the two clubs and the implications for them in 2022, as well as for Tasmanian football.”

McLachlan wrote that the $600 million drop in revenues across the industry as a result of the coronavirus pandemic and the major disruption it caused to the league made it impossible for them to commit to a timeframe.

Hawthorn president Jeff Kennett sparked controversy last week when he said his club would not rule out relocating to Tasmania, although most considered his comments provocative rather than realistic, while North Melbourne said they had no intention of moving to Tasmania.

The AFL did not play any games in Tasmania last year during the coronavirus pandemic because of border restrictions however they are scheduled to play eight games in the state in 2021.

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