Demetriou talks up Tas for 19th team - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Demetriou talks up Tas for 19th team

Crystal Ja 25/05/2011 05:07:58 PM Comments (0)

Size matters to AFL chief Andrew Demetriou and it seems the bigger the better.

Using a speech to the National Press Club, Demetriou says he wants a million people playing Australian Rules football by 2016, as well as one million paid-up AFL club members.

He's also given another strong plug to expanding the 17-team - 18 from 2012 onwards with the introduction of Greater Western Sydney - saying Tasmania is the most likely recipient if and when it happens.

"Will there ever be a team in Tasmania? You can never say never," Demetriou said.

"If there's another club to ever appear as the 19th club, that would seem to be the most logical place to put that club."

Hawthorn currently play four home matches every year at Aurora Stadium in Launceston.

And the AFL has been leaning on the Tasmanian government for some time to contribute to a proposal that would see North Melbourne playing two games a season at Hobart's Bellerive Oval, starting 2012.

"We support more football being played in Tasmania, and ultimately it now rests with the Tasmanian government to step up to the plate," said Demetriou.

"There's a new premier (Lara Giddings) there now, I think she understands that everyone is in pulling the same direction.

"That's where it sits.

"This is like the third time we've been to see the government about getting football played in Hobart."

Demetriou said efforts to expand the game in places like Tasmania, the Gold Coast and Canberra - through Greater Western Sydney - were key to growing the competition over the next decade.

He backed a deal that has GWS playing four games in Canberra each season for the next 10 years, saying the ACT deserved no "fly-in, fly-out" team, but a "club for Canberra".

Despite fears expansion could come at a cost to other teams, Demetriou is adamant everyone stands to benefit.

"Every time we've introduced a new club into the competition, everything has grown," he said.

"Our crowds have grown, our corporate partners have grown, sponsorship has grown, broadcast rights have grown.

"Watching on television has grown."

It's part of the reason why the AFL is aiming for a million participants in the indigenous football code and one million members in five years' time, up from the current 750,000 and 615,000 respectively.

As the AFL considers adding to the league, Demetriou also gave an assurance that it wouldn't be going backwards either.

"Going forward I don't see any clubs, I don't see the competition having any less clubs," he said.

"Having 10 clubs in Victoria is not ideal when you start with a blank piece of paper, but in a bizarre way it works for us."

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