Hawks pledge to stay

HAWTHORN has guaranteed it will not walk away from Tasmania unless forced to do so.

Hawks chief executive Stuart Fox said the club is proud of its Tasmanian partnership and has a commitment to the state in its five-year plan but cannot speak on behalf of the other two parties in the 12-year-old deal.

The existing five-year contract with the AFL and Tasmanian government enters year three with the Hawks playing North Melbourne in a preseason match in Launceston tonight, but there remains a lack of clarity about the league's future vision for the state.

``There is no way we are going to walk away from the deal unless other factors which are totally out of our control force us to,'' Fox told  The Examiner  yesterday.

``There is no doubt the AFL may have different interests, however, they have not declared that to us yet.

``They may be looking at other models.''

While the Hawks favour the existing arrangement of four annual roster games plus one preseason, history has shown the AFL would appear to prefer a deal involving North Melbourne playing up to eight matches at both ends of the state.

Former Hawks president Jeff Kennett has previously revealed that the AFL offered the club around $7.5 million to walk away before the existing deal was re-signed.

Fox said yesterday the club was 100 per cent committed to its relationship with Tasmania and will naturally be interested in the outcome of next month's state election.

``We've enjoyed a fantastic partnership with the government and that will continue whoever the government is.

``We're obviously sensitive that an election is approaching and don't want football used in a political sense, but the reality is we've got three full years to run on the contract and talks with the government would probably commence later this year.

``Our work in Tasmania, playing games, maintaining a high level of community engagement, plus the strong economic benefits to the state put us in good stead for a positive response when it comes time to talk contract.''

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