No Tasmanian sympathy from AFL heir apparent

"NEXT cab off the rank" is a tidy soundbite until you realise no cabs are being manufactured for the next decade, the fare's going to cost an arm and a leg and the cabbie needs a GPS to find Aurora Stadium.

Tasmania's forlorn desperation for its own AFL team has reached such a point that a second successive AFL bigwig can effectively state "not in my time" and still some quarters of the state report this as "AFL backs Tassie team".

What was once the league's indifference towards Tassie's hopes and dreams has long since transgressed into contempt and was last seen heading towards care-factor-of-zero territory.

AFL CEO heir apparent Gillon McLachlan's visit to Hobart earlier this month had the same theme as his boss Andrew Demetriou's to Launceston in June 2012.

Both told journalists how valuable Tasmania was to the AFL, both detailed how much the AFL does for Tasmania without considering the reverse, both said they would like to see more AFL played here and both categorically stated there were no plans for further expansion in the foreseeable future.

Demetriou said a Tassie team wouldn't happen during his time in charge (and he's been true to his word); his likely successor said it remained at least 10 years away.

Both also happily played the parochialism card, suggesting Tasmania's North-South divide was a bigger impediment to the state's own team than anything they were responsible for.

So while Gold Coast and Greater Western Sydney were given the red carpet treatment, Tassie is offered an obstacle course.

Hawthorn CEO Stuart Fox willingly shot down this argument straight away, pointing out that the AFL actively promotes rivalries in Adelaide, Perth, Sydney and Queensland and throughout Melbourne but not in Tasmania, because that doesn't fit its one-club model agenda.

When McLachlan said there simply wasn't the same incentive for a team in Tasmania as there was for the last two expansion clubs, he meant: Why should we give you a team when we're already getting everything we want from you and you're paying us for it?

So while Gold Coast and Greater Western Sydney were given the red carpet treatment, Tassie is offered an obstacle course.

The Australian Football League remains a misnomer. So is the A-League (which even put New Zealand ahead of Tasmania), assuming that A stands for Australia.

If national sporting codes are fair dinkum about being national, they've got to start taking the lead in bringing their product across Bass Strait rather than hiding behind the lame defence of expecting Tasmania to provide everything for itself.

Realistically, Tasmania getting its own team in either football competition remains about as likely as Hawthorn taking up Jeff Kennett's suggestion to relocate to Launceston.

And as footy's best blogger, Titus O'Reily, put it, the AFL is a national competition made up of 18 teams from the five important states.

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