AFL to press ahead with expansion plans - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

AFL to press ahead with expansion plans

By Roger Vaughan 15/07/2008 08:45:32 PM Comments (0)

The AFL remains committed to its expansion strategy, confident it can withstand the effects of the international economic downturn.

Their determination to push ahead with a 17th team on the Gold Coast from 2011 and an 18th licence in western Sydney from 2012 will also further frustrate Tasmania's push to have an expansion team based there.

The league met with about 50 directors from Victorian clubs in Melbourne to update them on the expansion project.

Among them was Collingwood president Eddie McGuire, who expressed some reservations on Sunday about whether expansion to 18 teams would be feasible in the current economic climate.

AFL chief executive Andrew Demetriou said he raised this subject during Tuesday's meeting.

"We don't want to wait, we believe the risk of waiting is far greater than the risk of doing," he said.

"From our view, it's absolutely true that there is a global downturn at the moment.

"We should all be very careful about that, we're actually doing a risk impact around some sensitivities, about what or may not happen, as part of our general business.

"We're very mindful and we're very prepared, we think we're well-positioned to capitalise on the opportunities that are out there.

He added the AFL is debt free, has an $82 million future fund and secure long-term revenues.

The league's commitment to the Gold Coast and western Sydney will further frustrate Tasmania, with the state government strongly backing a local campaign for the island state's own AFL team.

"They probably do deserve a team, we shouldn't dismiss the contribution that Tasmania has made to our game," Demetriou said.

"But the commission has made a decision that the 17th licence will be awarded to the Gold Coast and the 18th licence will be awarded to western Sydney.

"It's not a competition for the 18th licence and as we've repeated to the Tasmanian Government, we welcome their submission.

"They are absolutely entitled to put forward a proposal, but the commission has already decided where the 17th and 18th teams are going."

Demetriou added list development was one key reason why the league would introduce the two expansion teams in separate seasons.

He said the AFL's list development group, which is looking at how to build the two new teams, would probably be ready to make recommendations to the commission next month on issues such as the draft and uncontracted players.

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