Tasmania still holding out AFL hope - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Tasmania still holding out AFL hope

By Paul Carter 01/04/2009 05:58:28 PM Comments (0)

Tasmanian Premier David Bartlett accepts his state's dreams of having their own AFL team have been put on hold, at least while the league expands into the Gold Coast and western Sydney.

While not giving up on the prospect of a locally based club, Bartlett has bowed to commercial reality and acknowledged the league's priority is building its base in the more populous northern states.

"We respect the right of the AFL to expand the competition in the way they are doing through the Gold Coast and western Sydney," Bartlett said after meeting AFL chief executive Andrew Demetriou in Launceston.

"We've talked today about opportunities in the next three or four years within the AFL.

"We are comfortable with the way our bid is progressing and with the way that Andrew and his people are working with us on that."

Demetriou was in Tasmania a day after announcing on the Gold Coast that the Queensland tourist strip would have a team in the AFL starting in 2011.

The league is also committed to a second Sydney team entering the competition in 2012.

The potential financial boon to the AFL from those plans was emphasised when AFL chief operating officer Gillon McLachlan revealed the league was hoping to reap $1 billion for its next television rights deal.

The current five-year agreement, which expires at the end of 2011, is worth $780 million.

"I'd like to think we could get $1 billion," McLachlan told the AFL website on Wednesday.

"There's no doubt that the value of our content continues to get stronger and despite the tough economic conditions for media companies we're very confident in our product."

He said the planned expansion was a necessity "for the prosperity of our existing 16 clubs".

The Tasmanian government had tried to force their way in, submitting an unsolicited bid to the AFL while running a public relations campaign and developing a business model for their own club.

In a joint press conference with Bartlett, Demetriou acknowledged that while there were no plans for a Tasmanian team, the process had strengthened the AFL's relationship with the island state.

He said Tasmania was next in line, if the competition ever expanded beyond the planned 18-team format or a Victorian club relocated.

"If in the future there was another AFL football club, the next port of call would have to be Tasmania," Demetriou said.

"I can't speak for what may happen in the future, things do change.

"You could never say that there wouldn't be 19 or 20 teams in the competition, you could never say that a team might (not) decide Tasmania will be their new home."

He said the $200,000 of taxpayer money spent by the government on the bid had been worthwhile.

Tasmania received the AFL's written response to the bid on Monday but Demetriou and Bartlett refuse to publicly detail the feedback except to say it included suggestions to do with membership, corporate and stadium issues.

The dashing of Tasmania's immediate hopes strengthens Hawthorn's appeal to the state government to extend their sponsorship of the reigning premiers beyond 2011.

Demetriou said the partnership between Hawthorn and Tasmania was very important for the state.

"Everyone is winning at the moment as we see it, and at the moment there is great upside for the government, for the people of Tasmania and for Hawthorn," Demetriou said.

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