AFL denies hurting Hawks in Tassie deal - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

AFL denies hurting Hawks in Tassie deal

Roger Vaughan 17/11/2010 08:58:05 PM Comments (0)

The AFL has rejected any suggestions that it disadvantaged Hawthorn in backing a North Melbourne bid to play home games in Tasmania.

North had offered to play seven games per year in Launceston and Hobart from 2012 but on Monday the Tasmanian Government extended its existing deal with the Hawks.

AFL chief executive Andrew Demetriou said the league put the seven-game offer to Hawthorn before backing the North bid.

The contract extension involves the Hawks playing four home games and one pre-season match per year in Launceston from 2012-16 and is worth $16 million to the club.

Hawks president Jeff Kennett has attacked the North bid, saying it made their negotiations much harder.

"It's a fantastic thing that Hawthorn have done a deal with the Tasmanian government," said AFL chief executive Andrew Demetriou.

"I don't think it's true we don't appreciate what Hawthorn have done.

"We didn't go behind Hawthorn's back, I actually went to Jeff Kennett and I spoke to Jeff about the possibility of playing additional games in Tasmania - Hawthorn first and foremost should have been given the first opportunity."

Demetriou said Hawthorn did not want to play seven home games in Tasmania, so then North became involved.

"Then we engaged quite openly with Hawthorn ... the possibility of North Melbourne taking up the opportunity to play seven games, they were involved in every discussion," Demetriou said.

"They saw every business plan we were putting forward on behalf of North Melbourne, so it's simply not true Hawthorn weren't involved.

"The Tasmanian government ... chose to renew, and in many ways quite rightly, a deal with Hawthorn for four to five games."

But Demetriou added the new Hawks deal had set back Tasmania's long-held dream of an AFL side based in the state.

He also said North would now have to look at new ways to expand their supporter base.

"I guess the disappointing thing for the Tasmanian public(is) it probably closes the door on a team in Tasmania for a period of time," he said.

"It will obviously be Hawthorn playing a maximum of four or five games and the possibility maybe of additional games in Hobart, whether they be a North Melbourne or a Richmond or whoever puts their hand up.

"They (North) will have to go back to the drawing board, but it will be a challenge for them, because they need to grow and grow at a pace that keeps up with the rest of the competition.

"Perhaps playing two or three games in Hobart might be a possibility and an opportunity for them.

"That's a decision for the North Melbourne board."

Meanwhile, Demetriou has called on the league to consider an overseas match for premiership points.

Speaking at an AFL industry conference on the Gold Coast, he said the league must remain open to change.

"Imagine the scene when one day in the not too distant future we play the first ever match overseas for premiership points?," he said.

"It could be Shanghai. It could be Mumbai. It could be Los Angeles. Wherever it is, when that day comes we'll know our game has taken yet another great leap forward."

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