Tasmanian AFL bid

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Tasmania Devils
Tasmania Devils AFL team logo, 2018.jpg
AFL Tasmania's logo for Tasmanian teams. [1]
Names
Full nameTasmania Football Club
Nickname(s)Devils
Club details
Colours  Bottle green
  Primrose
  Maroon
Competition NAB League (2019) [1]
Nab League Girls (2020) [1]
VFL (2021 or 2022) [1]
AFL (TBA, target 2025) [2]
Coach Adrian Fletcher (NAB League)
Ground(s) Bellerive Oval, Hobart (capacity: 19,500)
  York Park, Launceston (capacity: 21,000)
 Macquarie Point Stadium, Hobart (proposed) (capacity: 30,000)
Uniforms
Kit body tasmania.png
Kit body sleeveless.png
Kit shorts.svg
Kit socks goldtop.png
Kit socks long.svg
Home

The Tasmanian AFL bid refers to several Australian rules football teams that have proposed to eventually join the Australian Football League (AFL) and the AFL Women's (AFLW). [1] Proposals have been made on several occasions since the expansion of the Victorian Football League into an Australia-wide competition started in 1987.

Contents

Australian rules football in Tasmania

Tasmania has been a stronghold of Australian rules football since the 1860s. Pictured is the 1911 Tasmanian state side from the Adelaide carnival where they beat the Western Australian state team on Adelaide Oval. Tasmania at Adelaide Carnival, 1911.jpg
Tasmania has been a stronghold of Australian rules football since the 1860s. Pictured is the 1911 Tasmanian state side from the Adelaide carnival where they beat the Western Australian state team on Adelaide Oval.

Australian rules football has been played in Tasmania as long as the mainland states with the first clubs formed in the early 1860s. The state hosted the national football carnival in 1924, 1947 and 1966.

In 1960, the Tasmanian state side defeated a Victorian state side made up from some of the best players from the Victorian Football League.

The largest attendance at a football game in Tasmania was set at the 1979 TANFL Grand Final with 24,968 spectators watching Clarence defeat Glenorchy by three points at North Hobart Oval.

In 2004 the Board of Management of AFL Tasmania named a Team of the Century for the state. It had 18 on field and seven interchange players as well as an umpire, coach and assistant coach.

Team of the Century
B: Verdun Howell Tassie Johnson Ivor Warne-Smith
HB: Barry Lawrence Laurie Nash Brent Crosswell
C: Rodney Eade Ian Stewart Arthur Hodgson
HF: Darrel Baldock (c) Royce Hart Daryn Cresswell
F: Horrie Gorringe Peter Hudson Alastair Lynch
Foll: Percy Jones John Leedham (vc) Terry Cashion
Int: Neil Conlan Darrin Pritchard Paul Williams
Michael Roach Len Pye Rex Garwood
Matthew Richardson
Coach: Roy Cazaly

AFL team proposals

1990: Tasmania defeats Victoria

1990 Tasmania v. VictoriaGBScore
Tasmania 2014134
Victoria 1417101
Venue: North Hobart Oval

On 24 June 1990, Tasmania's state team defeated the Victorian state team in front of a full house at North Hobart Oval fuelling the first calls for the state to house its own AFL team. [3] Colin Alexander kicked 4 goals for Tasmania during the match. [4]

1991–1997: 14th, 15th & 16th AFL licences

In 1991, Fitzroy played three games in Tasmania.

In 1992 Roger Curtis, then president of successful Tasmanian State League side Clarence, flagged the inevitable decline of Tasmanian football without the presence of its own AFL side. [5] Curtis said that "The only way to get the kids playing football here is to give them access to the best product available and that, of course, is AFL football...You would have to call the side 'Tasmania' as fans simply won't follow a relocated side with its traditional name, even if it was Collingwood". [5]

In April 1994 The Tasmanian Sports Minister, Peter Hodgman, spoke to the AFL about the possible introduction of a local team to the league and had raised the possibility of state funding. [6]

Between 1994 and 1997 the bid was prepared for a Tasmanian team that involved the construction of a 30,000-capacity stadium at the Hobart Showgrounds in Glenorchy, at the cost of approximately $30 million. [7]

2008–2011: Tasmania beaten by Gold Coast and Western Sydney

"Tasmanians already watch AFL"

Andrew Demetriou , former AFL CEO and North Melbourne and Hawthorn player responding to questions regarding why Tasmania is not a priority in 2009. [8]

The AFL's continued rejection of the Tasmanian AFL team has raised significant controversy, with the Government of Australia launching a Senate inquiry in 2008 which AFL Commission CEO Andrew Demetriou and chairman Mike Fitzpatrick both declined to attend. [9] At the enquiry, Tasmanian senator Kerry O'Brien brought into question the AFL's commitment to the game in Tasmania, and stated that he believed that with continued neglect, the popularity of soccer could overtake Australian rules football in Tasmania. [10] There are already more children playing soccer than Australian rules football in Tasmania. [11]

The AFL argued that the New South Wales based participation numbers were in excess of that in Tasmania, [12] furthering their argument that a team in Western Sydney was a higher priority. The Senate enquiry found that insurmountable cultural barriers would make such a move non-viable. [13]

In April 2008, Tasmania's former premier Paul Lennon revived the push for an AFL team by travelling to AFL House in Melbourne where the latest bid was officially launched. Although Lennon subsequently retired in May, the responsibility of steering the bid went to Economic Development Minister Paula Wriedt. Wriedt said Tasmania only made the case for a Tasmanian team, and were not trying to beat the Gold Coast or Greater Western Sydney to be the 17th or 18th club. [14]

AFL CEO Andrew Demetriou has said: "They probably do deserve a team, we shouldn't dismiss the contribution that Tasmania has made to our game... They are absolutely entitled to put forward a proposal, but the commission has already decided where the 17th and 18th teams are going." [15]

The bid received a significant boost on 30 July 2008, with the announcement that the confectionery company Mars committed to being the proposed club's major sponsor. [16]

Some media commentators have speculated that the AFL holds Tasmania open as a soft target for relocation of struggling Melbourne clubs. In 2010, there was increased speculation due to North Melbourne's commitment to move four home games annually to Hobart's Bellerive Oval. [17]

2011–2017: Off the AFL agenda and bare draft crop

In April 2014, AFL deputy chief executive Gillon McLachlan said he supported a "single team representing Tasmania". He stated Tasmania would be the next team to join the AFL, but that this would not happen for at least a decade. [18]

In 2016, the Garlick report confirmed that a stand-alone Tasmanian team would have to wait until current broadcast deals expire at the end of the 2022 season to enter the AFL.

For the 2016 AFL National Draft no Tasmanian players were drafted. The following year only one player was drafted.

In April 2017, the Tasmanian Government indicated its interest in relocating the Gold Coast Suns to Tasmania in the event the club collapses. [19]

In September 2017, the AFL awarded a licence for an AFL Women's team for the 2019 AFLW season for a combined "Tasmania-North Melbourne" team. The submission for a licence was a joint project of the North Melbourne Football Club and the Government of Tasmania. [20]

Early 2018: AFL steering committee and A-League team bid

In early 2018, AFL Tasmania CEO Rob Auld resigned, and the following day Burnie and Devonport withdrew from the Tasmanian State League, citing lack of funding making them unable to field sides, thus leaving the competition without any team from North Western Tasmania.

The same week, AFL CEO Gillon McLachlan was quoted as saying he "had a really clear plan for Tasmania"; that week, the AFLX launch took place as well as an announcement that the Gold Coast Suns received $25 million in subsidies for 2017. [21]

On 16 February 2018 the A-League, a key rival of the AFL, announced it would expand its competition by two teams for the upcoming 2019–20 season and flagging that a Tasmanian bid was a key contender, though the bid was rejected in June 2018 after being cut from the FFA shortlist.

On 23 February 2018 during an interview on SEN, newly appointed AFL Tasmania CEO Trisha Squires did not have a position on whether Tasmania was better off with two fly-in-fly-out Victorian sides or its own side. [22] She also described talk of a standalone Tasmanian team as a "distraction". [22]

Subsequent to these events, a steering committee was formed in March. On 3 July 2018, the committee delivered its findings. [23]

McLachlan announced the following recommendations to rebuild and unify Tasmanian football over the next three years: [24]

Mclachlan also stated the success of these plans would help determine a potential date for a Tasmanian team to enter the AFL. [24]

Late 2018: Political and social pressure and branding announcement

Several days later, Opposition Leader Bill Shorten pledged $25 million in funding for a Tasmanian AFL team, contingent on the Labor Party winning the 2019 federal election. [25]

On 26 June 2018, Tasmanian Nationals Senator Steve Martin moved a motion calling for the AFL to commission business plans for the inclusion of a Tasmanian team in the men's and women's national league. [26] At the time Senator Martin did so with the support of Coalition and Labor senators. [26]

On 21 September 2018, Trisha Squires announced that representative Tasmanian football teams administered by AFL Tasmania would be known as the Tasmania Devils and would wear green, yellow and maroon. [1]

On 11 October 2018, Adrian Fletcher was named as the Tasmania Devils NAB League coach.

Early 2019: Guidelines set by AFL

On 22 March 2019, Caroline Wilson broke the story that the AFL had set Will Hodgman, Tasmanian Premier, guideline requirements to house an AFL team being: [27]

It was noted that Tasmania had 90,000 members for the existing mainland AFL clubs in 2018.

Late 2019: Taskforce formed

In mid-2019, a taskforce made up of people from the Australian business community was formed with the intent of gaining an AFL licence. [28] The taskforce is being chaired by Brett Godfrey. [28]

These taskforce members were: [29]

The Tourism Industry Council of Tasmania also backed the push for a stand-alone Tasmanian AFL team, saying it would have substantial positive impacts on multiple facets of the state's economy, and reiterated that "A Tasmanian AFL team [should] play out of both the North and South of the state, with a relatively even number of games in both Hobart and Launceston each year...We believe this principle must be accepted as fundamental to further discussion about an AFL team in Tasmania to completely destruct any perceptions of a 'Southern' or 'Northern' team...Rather than seeing this as a challenge in the formation of the team, we see it as one of its strengths in being a unifying force within the state and maximising the resources of all regions." [30] '

On 16 May 2019, the AFL applied for a trade mark with IP Australia for the Tasmania Devils logo, sparking speculation that this would be the logo for a new Tasmanian AFL team. [31]

On 23 August 2019, Caroline Wilson reported that the taskforce would be applying for a provisional AFL licence before the end of the year. [2] The taskforce has aimed to enter the competition in 2025, when the extended broadcast rights deal expires. Plans to build a new stadium and training facility at Hobart's Macquarie Point were also revealed, while the VFL team's entry could also be delayed to 2022 to develop local talent. On 8 November 2019 the Taskforce run petition surpassed 60,000 pledges in support of a Tasmanian AFL team. [32]

2020: Tougher Tasmanian stance and Coronavirus

Newly appointed Tasmanian premier Peter Gutwein has adopted a noticeably more aggressive stance on the need for a Tasmanian team in the AFL compared to his predecessors. Gutwein meets Gutwein (49612206627) (cropped).jpg
Newly appointed Tasmanian premier Peter Gutwein has adopted a noticeably more aggressive stance on the need for a Tasmanian team in the AFL compared to his predecessors.

The COVID-19 pandemic in 2019–20 has led to diverging views on the viability of a Tasmanian team being added to the Australian Football League.

Some have argued that the combination of reduced operating costs of existing AFL clubs, the increased debt taken on by existing clubs, and the need for the league to increase revenue and cash flow post-pandemic mean that a Tasmanian team in the league has never been a more viable and competitive option. This was noted by the state's newly appointed premier, Peter Gutwein, who stated that "Now is an opportunity for the AFL to actually start with a blank sheet of paper and to determine that they should have a national competition in the future and that Tasmania should have an AFL team at some stage in the future - and for them to consider whether some of those outlying clubs that they have poured so much money into are part of the AFL’s future moving forward". [34]

Gerard Whately responded to Gutwein's comments saying that "I think he is tired of the niceties and the condescending idea that, 'yes Tassie deserves a team', but this harnesses the challenge. All the thresholds Tasmania is being asked to clear, a great many of the current clubs couldn’t meet and even less so in the current circumstances. It was dispensing with the niceties and getting down to business — 'if you want a national competition, it needs to be in Tasmania and you’ve got plenty of teams that are faltering by your own standards'. It was bolshie and it does risk burning a lot of the goodwill but goodwill hasn’t got Tassie anywhere". [33]

While Tasmanian AFL Taskforce chairman Brett Godfrey has promised to continue pushing Tasmania's case at the appropriate time, he remains optimistic about a 2025 entry date, and has also expressed interest in a Tasmanian team entering the competition earlier in the event an existing AFL club collapses as a result of the crisis.

On the other hand, Collingwood President Eddie McGuire has stated is that it could take ten years for the AFL and its clubs to recover, likely pushing back Tasmania's AFL team aspirations in the short to medium term. [35] In this regard, Nick Riewoldt stated Tasmania would still have an opportunity to contribute to the game and its recovery.

Since the crisis effectively forced Tasmania to close its borders, the prospect of Hawthorn and North Melbourne moving their Tasmanian games to Melbourne has been raised; a decision on this is yet to be finalised, and the 2020 season was suspended on 22 March. If these deals were to be voided, it would likely save the Tasmanian taxpayer around $8,000,000, which were the existing commitments with North Melbourne and Hawthorn for 2020. Hawthorn President Jeff Kennett described the prospect of AFL games not being played in Tasmania in 2020, and therefore not honouring the agreement between Hawthorn and the Tasmanian government, as being "very selfish". [36]

2021: Government and AFL clash

In February 2021 it was reported that the Tasmanian Government had issued an ultimatum to the AFL; reportedly refusing to negotiate an extension of the deal, set to expire in 2022, that allowed North Melbourne and Hawthorn to play three-to-four home matches a year in the state, until the AFL gave the government a firm timetable for the introduction of a Tasmanian team. [37] One week later the AFL formally responded to the government's request and rejected its demand for a concrete timeline, instead pledging to set up an independent review into the merits of Tasmania's bid which would report back no later than early 2022. [38] This was met with a scathing response from Premier Peter Gutwein, who accused the AFL of stonewalling, and that "after receiving our business case 12 months ago, it beggars belief the AFL has not been able to consider it fully over the last year and now, to add insult to injury, want to take up to another year before providing clarity on the future of a Tasmanian team". [39] In a statement released shortly thereafter, the AFL highlighted the financial and investments risks stemming from the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on the football industry, as justification for the decision to conduct a formal review rather than provide the government with its desired timeline. [40]

Honour board

Tasmania Devils Honour Board
NAB League
YearPositionW-L-D%CoachCaptainBest & FairestLeading Goal Kicker
2019 14/18 (12/13)4-11-0, lost Wildcard Final80 Adrian Fletcher [41] Nic Baker
Jared Dakin
Oliver Davis
Oliver DavisJackson Callow (24) [42]
2020Cameron Joyce

VFL teams

Tasmanian Devils Football Club (2001–2008)

In 2001 the Tasmanian Devils Football Club was formed and competed in the Victorian Football League until 2008.

During the 1990s, Tasmania had shown strong interest in joining the AFL and after rejected bids in 1995 and 1997 the Australian Football League instigated the formation a Tasmanian team for the newly re-constructed Victorian Football League. The Tasmanian Devils Football Club formed in 2001 and was admitted into the VFL in its inaugural season the same year. The AFL continues to own the club.

The nickname "Devils" was chosen as the moniker for the club after the tenacious marsupial predator the Tasmanian devil which is indigenous to the island of Tasmania. The club colours green, red, gold (and black) were inspired by the original State of Origin "map" guernsey and are also Tasmania's sporting colours.

The Devils established home grounds in both Hobart and Launceston to deal with the long-standing north–south rivalry. Originally northern home games were played at Ulverstone, Devonport, Burnie and at Launceston's Aurora Stadium while North Hobart Oval hosted games in the south. At the end of the 2005 season the team moved from North Hobart Oval to Bellerive Oval for home games in the south and began playing all northern home games at Aurora Stadium.

2001 and 2002 brought mediocre results but, under the direction of coach Matthew Armstrong, the Devils made the finals for the first time in 2003, finishing a respectable third. The 2004 and 2005 seasons saw the Devils again making the finals.

At the start of the 2006 season the Devils and the Australian Football League's North Melbourne Football Club began a partial alignment, allowing North Melbourne listed players to play for Tasmania when not selected in the seniors, and arrangement which lasted from 2006 until 2007. This was unpopular among local fans, significantly harming the popularity of the club; and the season proved to be a disappointment on-field, with the Devils finishing ninth and missing the finals. [43] [44] During the 2006 season, Armstrong stepped down as coach due to internal pressure from the playing group, ending his six-year term as Devils coach. North Hobart premiership coach and former Devil Brendon Bolton was made stand in coach for the remainder of the year. [45]

Tasmanian and former Sydney Swan Daryn Cresswell was named coach of the club for 2007 after a successful career as an assistant coach at Geelong and the Brisbane Lions; however, hampered in part by Cresswell's off-field issues which included a gambling addiction and eventual fraud conviction, the club finished wooden spooners both seasons he coached the team, winning only six of a total 34 games. [43] [44]

At the end of the 2008 season, AFL Tasmania decided to withdraw the Devils from the VFL competition in favour of restarting a new Tasmanian league encompassing the entire state. [45]

Tasmania Devils (2021 or 2022)

The AFL plans on fielding a Tasmanian team in the Victorian Football League in 2021 or 2022 as a potential precursor to a team entering the Australian Football League.

NAB League/under-age teams

Tasmania has an association with the Victorian under-18 football competitions, the NAB League Boys and NAB League Girls, that act as a pathway for emerging AFL and AFL Women's talent. In 1995 a team known as the Tassie Mariners entered the boys competition (known at the time as the TAC Cup) and remained in the competition until 2002. By the late 2000s Tasmania had returned to the competition as an "academy team" (which plays only some matches against select Victorian teams and is not eligible for the league finals series or premiership), before graduating to full-time status in 2019. In the girls league, Tasmania began competing as an "academy team" in 2019 before graduating to full-time status in 2021. In both competitions the team is nicknamed the Tassie Devils.

Victorian AFL clubs in Tasmania

As Tasmania is the last Australian state to house an AFL team, and is also a heartland state of the code (unlike New South Wales and Queensland), the league has often used the state for Melbourne-based clubs to host games in Tasmania subsidised by local and the Tasmanian state governments. Both of the current deals with Hawthorn and North Melbourne will expire in 2021. [46]

Supporters

Guernsey sponsors
PeriodFront sponsorBack sponsor
2019AFL Tasmania + NABCripps Nubake

Tasmanian news website and newspaper The Mercury has been a vocal supporter of the bid. [47] [48] Kevin Sheedy has argued that Tasmania is not too small for an AFL team. He stated that population is irrelevant, and that a Tasmanian side could draw support from abroad in a similar way to the Green Bay Packers. [49] In 2008 Tasmanian bank MyState Financial offered $300,000 over three years in sponsorship of a team. [50]

Government supporters

Corporate support

Media supporters

Venues and travel

Bellerive oval hobart.jpg
Hawthorn v Western Bulldogs - 31st May 2008 181.jpg
Left: Bellerive Oval would serve as the club's home ground in Hobart.
Right: Tasmania's potential second ground, UTAS Stadium (York Park) in Launceston.

Due to the population split of Tasmania between Hobart and Launceston it has been proposed that a future Tasmania club use two home grounds Launceston and Hobart which are approximately 200 km apart.

It has often been suggested that the home games could be split between the two population centres with Hobart hosting six games a year and Launceston hosting five.

Hobart

Hobart is Tasmania's largest city with a population around 230,000 which is comparable to Greater Geelong. The record crowd for an Australian rules game in Hobart was 24,968 for the 1979 TANFL Grand Final at North Hobart Oval. In August 2019 a Tasmanian Parliamentary Committee heard from the Tasmanian Football Board regarding a new purpose built stadium at Macquarie Point as part of a bid for an AFL team. [57]

Launceston

Launceston is the second largest city in Tasmania housing nearly 90,000 people which is comparable in population to the Federal Division of Fremantle. The northern half of Tasmania is home to half the states population. It is the economic centre of Northern Tasmania. The record crowd for an Australian rules game in Launceston was 20,971 at York Park an AFL minor round fixture in 2006.

Related Research Articles

Tasmanian Devils Football Club

Tasmania Football Club, commonly known as the Tasmanian Devils, was an Australian rules football club which competed in the Victorian Football League in Australia. Formed in 2001, it was the youngest and the only non-Victorian club in the league. The club was based in the state of Tasmania at Bellerive Oval and was run by AFL Tasmania. At the end of the 2008 season, AFL Tasmania decided to withdraw the Devils from the VFL competition in favour of restarting a new Tasmanian league encompassing the entire state.

York Park Sports stadium in Tasmania

York Park is a sports ground in the Inveresk and York Park Precinct, Launceston, Australia. Holding 19,500 people – the joint-largest capacity stadium in Tasmania – York Park is known commercially as University of Tasmania Stadium and was formerly known as Aurora Stadium under a previous naming rights agreement signed with Aurora Energy in 2004. Primarily used for Australian rules football, its record attendance of 20,971 was set in June 2006, when Hawthorn Football Club played Richmond Football Club in an Australian Football League (AFL) match.

Soccer in Tasmania describes the sport of soccer being played and watched by people in the state of Tasmania in Australia.

Football Tasmania (FT) is the governing body for soccer in the Australian state of Tasmania. The federation oversees competitions across Tasmania, Tasmanian representative teams, and development of the sport in the state. The federation was known as the Tasmanian Soccer Association until 1996, when it was renamed Soccer Tasmania. In line with national changes in March 2006, it became Football Federation Tasmania. In February 2019, the organisation became simply Football Tasmania.

Tasmanian Football League

The Tasmanian State League (TSL), colloquially known as the "Tasmanian Football League (TFL)" is the highest ranked Australian rules football league in Tasmania, Australia.

North Hobart Oval

North Hobart Oval is a sports venue in North Hobart, Tasmania, used for Australian rules football.

Australian rules football in Tasmania

Australian rules football in Tasmania known as "football" officially and locally, has a history dating back to the 1860s, with the state having the distinction of being the first place outside Victoria to play the sport.

Sport in Tasmania is participation in and attendance at organised sports events in the state of Tasmania in Australia. Sport is an important part of Tasmanian culture; though, while spectator sports have grown in recent decades, overall participation in sports has declined and is currently lower than the national average.

Mitchell Thorp, better known as Mitch Thorp, is an Australian rules football player who played for the Hawthorn Football Club in the Australian Football League (AFL).

Terrence Robert Cashion was an Australian rules footballer from Tasmania.

A-League expansion in Tasmania has been proposed since the establishment of the A-League in 2005. Before the introduction of the league, Football Federation Australia (FFA) chairman Frank Lowy said he hoped to expand the competition into cities such as Hobart and Launceston, among others.

Scott Wade is a former Australian rules football player and administrator, most notable for his sixteen-year tenure at AFL Tasmania. He played for Hawthorn in the Victorian Football League (VFL) during the early 1980s.

Steve Goulding is an English former Australian rules footballer who played for North Melbourne in the Victorian Football League (VFL).

Expansion of the A-League

The Expansion of the A-League is the ongoing process of establishing new clubs in the A-League. The A-League was established to replace the NSL as the top soccer division in the Australian league system and is the only fully professional league in the country. It was founded in 2004 with eight teams commencing competition in 2005 and has since expanded into new markets across Australia and New Zealand. The league is currently contested by 12 teams, although a total of 15 have competed at some stage in its short history.

Statewide Australian rules football competition has been played in Tasmania, Australia under the umbrella of the Tasmanian Football League from 1986–1998, Football Tasmania from 1999–2000 until the competition was disbanded in December 2000 and AFL Tasmania from 2009 when a new ten-club competition, this time known as the Tasmanian State League, was formed.

The 2001 Victorian Football League season was the 120th season of the Australian rules football competition.

Herbert Clifford "Cliff" Taylor was an Australian rules footballer who played with Geelong in the Victorian Football League (VFL). He was also known as Beau Taylor.

Chris Fagan (coach)

Christian Fagan is a former Australian rules footballer who is the senior coach of the Brisbane Lions in the Australian Football League (AFL). He spent his entire playing career in Tasmania, playing 263 senior games with Hobart, Sandy Bay, and Devonport. Before being appointed head coach of Brisbane in October 2016, Fagan had spent long periods as an assistant coach at Melbourne (1999–2007) and Hawthorn (2008–2016).

Rhyan Mansell is a professional Australian rules footballer who plays for the Richmond Football Club in the Australian Football League (AFL).

References

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