AFL rejects Senate committee report - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

AFL rejects Senate committee report

By Robert Grant 26/06/2009 04:23:21 PM Comments (0)

The AFL has angrily rejected a federal Government report recommending a team should be established in Tasmania ahead of a second Sydney outfit.

And they appear to be backed by the Tasmanian Government, which says it is prepared to wait for a vacancy rather than steal western Sydney's place in the queue.

The Senate's Rural and Regional Affairs Committee has concluded a team in the western suburbs would not be economically viable, in part because of "insurmountable" cultural barriers.

The committee was examining whether it was fair for the AFL to overlook Tasmania in favour of western Sydney and the Gold Coast.

AFL boss Andrew Demetriou said the findings were "really insulting to the people of greater western Sydney".

"And (it's) offensive that this group of people, who are a very diverse community...are being talked about in such a fashion," Demetriou said.

"They've got every right, like anyone else, to have their own football club.

"It's not for a Senate inquiry to cast any aspersions on the people of western Sydney."

Demetriou said the Tasmanian Government did not participate in the federal inquiry.

"They're working with us about what we're doing in Tasmania - they didn't want to support anything that was going on in the Senate inquiry," he said."

"We don't need the Senate committee, who isn't privy to those discussions, to be giving us advice on where we play football."

Tasmanian Sports Minister Michelle O'Byrne said Tasmania had already won the "emotional debate" about the state being in the national league.

"Our focus has been on sitting down with the AFL and establishing that we can also win it based on a really solid business case.

"When the AFL is ready for Tasmania to be there we'll certainly be there.

"We've always said that our case has to stand or fall on its own merit and so we've never wished ill on any existing team nor any potential team.

"What we've had to say to the AFL is economically, when you get a vacancy, we stack up," she said.

Demetriou said he remained confident the AFL had made the right decision with its western Sydney plans.

"With a population of two and a half to three million people we think there will be an appetite for AFL football," he said.

He guaranteed the franchises would be new, and not be relocated Victorian clubs.

Meanwhile Demetriou said he "hadn't considered" revoking former Carlton president John Elliott's AFL life membership despite his claims the AFL club paid off women over rape allegations.

Police are investigating Elliott's claims last week that hush money had been paid to women who said they were raped by players during the 1980s and '90s.

"We haven't considered it, a life membership is for service over a long period of time and something the clubs and the AFL take very seriously.

"The comments attributed to John Elliott are totally appalling ... and everyone should be outraged by those sorts of comments.

"(The AFL life membership) is a distraction from what's very important and that's there no place in our society for violence against women or sexual abuse.

"I'm not going to sit in judgement about who comes through the gate to our football."

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