AFL expansion makes sense: ex-NFL boss - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

AFL expansion makes sense: ex-NFL boss

By Guy Hand 27/11/2008 05:37:16 PM Comments (0)

One of world sport's most respected administrators has urged the AFL not to be swayed off expansion by the global financial crisis.

Former American National Football League (NFL) commissioner Paul Tagliabue said the AFL's expansion plans made sense provided any new clubs would grow the sport's fan base, regardless of the economic climate.

The AFL has earmarked a 17th team on the Gold Coast in 2011, followed by a club based in western Sydney in 2012.

But there have been rumours of possible delays because of the economic downturn.

Tagliabue, who has been one of the guests at a forum this week as part of the 150th anniversary celebration of Australian rules football, said the AFL was on the right track with its expansion plans.

He held a two-hour meeting with AFL chief executive Andrew Demetriou and AFL Commission chairman Mike Fitzpatrick at which a number of topics including the NFL's experience with expansion were discussed.

"The worst things is to do it prematurely and fail," said Tagliabue, who oversaw the NFL's expansion from 28 teams to 32 during his 17-year tenure.

"I think here in Australia, expansion makes sense.

"From what I've read here, your economy is expected to avoid a recessionary period, though your economy's growth may not be as robust as in the past."

Demetriou reiterated the AFL's commitment to expanding into NSW and Queensland.

"We know in NSW and Queensland we've got huge challenges, but we've got two teams (Brisbane and Sydney) that have done particularly well," he said.

"They need some support. They need another team to create rivalry, another team to help the two clubs that have done all the heavy lifting."

Meanwhile, Demetriou said he hoped commonsense would prevail in a looming showdown over stadium deals between the 10 Victorian AFL clubs and those who run the MCG and Telstra Dome.

The clubs want to meet with the Victorian government, which controls the MCG through the MCG Trust, claiming they are not getting a good enough deal for their matches compared to other sports and AFL clubs in other states.

"All they want is to have a fair hearing to make sure they see some upside in the economy they're generating (for the stadia)," Demetriou said.

"You can't have a situation where 10 Victorian clubs are generating four and a half million people going to the football, yet the return to Victorian clubs is significantly less than what's happening in other parts of Australia."

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