Tasmania refuse to discuss 2021 games in renewed push to bring state their own AFL side

Ethan JamesThe West Australian
VideoAFL documentary details tough 2020 season

Tasmania is playing hardball with the AFL in its quest for its own team, with the state government putting negotiations to host visiting teams on hold until the league delivers a timeline.

The island state is pushing for a licence to be the 19th team in the national competition.

North Melbourne and Hawthorn are scheduled to host four “home” matches each in Tasmania this season but the long-standing agreements are set to expire next year.

“We will not finalise the arrangements for the next contract with Hawthorn or North Melbourne until we have clarity from the AFL in terms of our own licence,“ Premier Peter Gutwein said on Tuesday.

“That clarity doesn’t exist at the moment.

Tasmanian Premier and Treasurer Peter Gutwein speaking to media in the budget lock-up for the 2020-21 Tasmanian Budget at a media conferencein Hobart, Thursday, November 12, 2020. (AAP Image/Chris Crerar) NO ARCHIVING
Camera IconTasmanian Premier and Treasurer Peter Gutwein speaking to media in the budget lock-up for the 2020-21 Tasmanian Budget at a media conferencein Hobart, Thursday, November 12, 2020. (AAP Image/Chris Crerar) NO ARCHIVING Credit: AAPIMAGE

“I’ve made it perfectly clear to (AFL CEO) Mr (Gillon) McLachlan we cannot and will not finalise those arrangements until we have that clarity.”

Mr Gutwein said negotiations with the two Melbourne clubs for 2022 had begun but were on ice.

A state government-backed report released last February found a five-year plan culminating in a Tasmanian side entering the league in 2025 stacked up financially.

“Tasmania is part of the federation and you cannot have a truly national Australian Football League if one of the states does not have a team in it,” Mr Gutwein said.

“I’ve made that perfectly clear to the AFL.”

Mr Gutwein said the sport’s base is “decaying” in Tasmania and a licence is crucial in arresting the decline.

“Around the country numbers are increasing, we’re not seeing that occur in Tasmania,” he said.

“In fact, we’re seeing more clubs close and be put into mothballs. That’s not a healthy football league.”

Hobart-born Richmond star Jack Riewoldt has previously thrown his support behind a Tasmanian side, describing it as a “no-brainer”.

McLachlan said in 2019 it is unlikely Tasmania would be given a team in the competition in the next five years.

Get the latest news from thewest.com.au in your inbox.

Sign up for our emails