Hawks say no to AFL cash - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Hawks say no to AFL cash

Guy Hand 15/11/2010 08:02:38 PM Comments (0)

Hawthorn president Jeff Kennett has accused the AFL of trying to pay his club off to give cash-strapped North Melbourne a free run at Tasmania.

Hawthorn appear to have won the code's battle for Tasmania, signing off on Monday to a new deal with the state government to play at least four games a season there until the end of 2016.

It came after the Tasmanian government had flirted with North Melbourne, asking the club to pitch a deal in which they would play seven matches a season in both Launceston and Hobart.

But in announcing the Hawks' new five-year deal from 2012, Kennett said Tasmania should not become a dumping ground for "clubs with issues", pointing to North's reported $4 million debt.

And he said the AFL had offered a large financial inducement for the Hawks to quit Tasmania - something his club rejected out of hand as they wanted to continue a decade-long relationship with the state.

"For the last three months the AFL has been working with the Tasmanian government and North Melbourne, after all the work we have done over the last five years, to move Hawthorn from Tasmania," Kennett said.

"The AFL has a great deal of money, and they thought it would solve North Melbourne's financial issues.

"Recently the AFL has even offered Hawthorn financial inducements to leave Tassie, inducements that we have rejected.

"It is not always about money.

"We have always said regardless of the issues the AFL and its commission are facing, the preference of Hawthorn football club is to stay in Tasmania."

North Melbourne chairman James Brayshaw has vowed to continue lobbying to play games in Hobart, and Kennett said the Hawks were comfortable with that should the Kangaroos and the AFL be able to organise matches there.

Tasmanian premier David Bartlett said the seven-match North Melbourne proposal was rejected because it was too expensive and too risky for the state.

But Bartlett admitted the government would have embraced the North proposal far more warmly had the club committed to relocation.

"The proposal for seven matches each season in Tasmania, split between Aurora Stadium and Bellerive Oval would have been more attractive as a long-term investment if it had been the first step to the club relocating to Tasmania. However that was ruled out," Bartlett said, referring to Brayshaw's public rejection of a permanent move.

Under the new deal, Hawthorn will guarantee four home-and-away fixtures in Launceston each season and in seasons the Hawks have 12 games, the state gets a fifth match.

Brayshaw, whose club rejected a multi-million dollar relocation package to the Gold Coast in 2007, said Tasmania was big enough for a second club to become involved and Hobart deserved an AFL presence.

"If we can get two or three games down there and get our teeth into the community, it would be a really good result," Brayshaw told Melbourne radio station SEN.

"Hopefully in the next couple of weeks we can get some good dialogue going with the AFL and the Tasmanian government.

"I reckon Hobart is close to the most football-mad place in Australia."

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