THE future direction of AFL football in Tasmania rests with the state government and not the sport's governing body, according to existing tenant club Hawthorn.
Hawks' chief executive, Stuart Fox, yesterday welcomed Launceston City Council's push to safeguard the club's future at Aurora Stadium, but stressed that it would not be the AFL which has the final say.
Hawthorn's four-game-a-season deal is due to expire in three years, but with AFL Tasmania favouring an eight-game North-South model that would involve another club, the picture beyond 2016 remains unclear.
``Ultimately the decision will rest with the government of the day as the AFL have told us that they will not stand in the way of the extension of the existing deal if that's the way the government wanted to progress,'' Mr Fox said.
``Obviously the club's strong priority is to maintain its presence and playing future in the state, but ultimately it's a decision for government, not the AFL.''
At their meeting on Monday, Launceston aldermen agreed to block any move by the AFL to replace Hawthorn with another team in Tasmania.
Mr Fox said the move represented a sign of the strength of the relationship between the Hawks and the council.
``The economic and social benefits into the Northern market speaks for itself and the council has always been supportive of what we've been trying to achieve in the state,'' he said.
However, the prospect of a fifth annual Hawks roster match in Launceston, which is being sought by the council, remains unlikely.
The eventuality would only happen if Hawthorn was rostered more than its current 11 home games each season and with no new clubs set to join the competition this is unlikely.
``We can consider the option longer term, but it does present real challenges,'' Mr Fox said.
``I've been asked this question before and it's difficult to accommodate a fifth game because we would have to take it out of the Victorian market.''
The 2014 AFL season is expected to be extended to 24 weeks with two byes meaning an average of 11 home fixtures a team.