AFL considers Irish-dominated Celtics - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

AFL considers Irish-dominated Celtics

12/07/2008 06:23:22 AM Comments (0)

The AFL is considering a radical proposal to launch an Irish-dominated team in Sydney's western suburbs which would perform before an international audience under the Celtic brand name.

Commission chairman Mike Fitzpatrick confirmed on Friday night the Irish option was being explored as a possible basis for the competition's 18th team, to debut as early as 2012.

The Sydney Celtics plan was first put to AFL chief executive Andrew Demetriou 18 months ago by Gaelic Players Association executive Donal O'Neill, Fairfax newspapers report on Saturday.

It has gained momentum in recent weeks following player agent Ricky Nixon's talent-spotting tour of Ireland.

Nixon has contacted Demetriou and Fitzpatrick in recent days and put forward a revised template for the AFL's 18th licence.

Mr Fitzpatrick said on Friday night: "It's been put to us and, while it's not without its issues, it's something we'll explore. Ricky has made a reasonably compelling case and we are not discounting anything at this stage."

The Celtic proposal would bring an expanded television audience in Ireland and across Britain.

The Celtic brand could also open a marketing bonanza given the international cachet afforded the Boston Celtics (a basketball team) and the Glasgow Celtics (a soccer team).

Australia's Irish heritage and the AFL's historic relationship with Gaelic football add to the proposal's selling points.

Currently nine Irish players feature on AFL club lists. The AFL's most famous Irishman, Jim Stynes, was recently appointed chairman of Melbourne.

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