A major media-backed petition getting behind the push for a standalone Tasmanian AFL team has hit 50,000 signatures; a symbolic and significant number as calls for the league to do the right damned thing by giving Tassie its own team grow louder.
The United We Stand petition, spearheaded and backed by the state’s three major newspapers in a fairly unprecedented show of solidarity, passed the benchmark 50,000 mark a short time ago.
That number is significant, given that it represents the number of members the AFL quite outrageously reckons a Tasmanian team would need in order to be a viable club. They’re still quite happy to keep propping Gold Coast up with their 2019 membership tally of 13,649 in the name of “growing the game” and such. But hey, each to their own.
Launceston’s The Examiner, north-west Tasmania’s The Advocate, and Hobart’s The Mercury newspapers kicked the campaign off in late August, just prior to the AFL Finals beginning, with all three papers dedicating their front pages to the united cause.
(The last time the three papers would have taken a common position like this is covering a Ricky Ponting double 100!) pic.twitter.com/stPKnyc67u
— Luke Martin (@lukemartin83) August 29, 2019
The AFL has long treated Tasmania with snivelling indifference at best, and like a wallet for its less financially successful clubs at worst, with repeated efforts to get Tassie representation in the league rebuffed at virtually every turn.
This push, however, has a much different feel to it and seems to be the most credible chance Tasmania’s ever had at gaining entry into the country’s premiere footy league.
Previously, AFL officials have asserted that any potential Tasmanian AFL side would require 50,000 members and a contribution of $40 million from the State Government in order to succeed. Those are seemingly insurmountable bars that blatantly ignore the fact that around 91,000 Tasmanians are currently members of other AFL clubs, and that the State Government currently contributes around $10 million combined to the Hawthorn and North Melbourne football clubs, who play home games in Launceston and Hobart respectively.
A taskforce setup to push for a Tasmanian side is being chaired by Brett Godfrey, the co-founder of Virgin Australia.
The current proposal for a Tasmanian side calls for the state to be awarded a provisional AFL license by the end of the year, ahead of a senior side entry into the league in 2025. A developmental side would begin playing in the second-tier Victorian Football League from 2022.
Under the proposal, home games would be split evenly between Hobart (6 games) and Launceston (5 games), while the team’s training and administrative headquarters would be housed in Hobart, potentially at a new stadium to be built at Macquarie Point on the fringe of the Hobart CBD.
Fucken get around Tassie. Get around a Tassie AFL team. Get around the mighty forest green, maroon, and gold you BEAUTY.Image: Getty Images / Michael Dodge