AFL Tasmanian divide

TASMANIA'S two AFL tenants expressed surprise at league deputy chief Gillon McLachlan's vision for the state.

Gillon McLachlan

Gillon McLachlan

Both Hawthorn and North Melbourne were taken aback by Andrew Demetriou's likely successor stating a preference for a one-team model in the state.

Hawthorn chief executive Stuart Fox suggested one team playing eight games split between Launceston and Hobart would struggle to be viable.

``We'd be pretty curious as to whom the AFL sees as going there because we don't think it's us and we could not justify that many games there,'' Fox said. 

``[This] was the first indication of the AFL's intent into the future. Our view is that a hybrid eight-game model would be a better option and that it would take a Tasmanian home team being implemented for us to support removing our presence.''

Speaking after AFL Tasmania's annual meeting on Tuesday, McLachlan said he was yet to consult either club about the future of the game in Tasmania beyond the Hawks contract, which expires in 2016.

``Everyone understands they have another two years on their contract to run and I feel very confident North Melbourne will renew their arrangement for at least another couple of years in Hobart and the appropriate time to review that will be post-[20]16,'' McLachlan said.

``We have an ideal model, which is a single team representing Tasmania. Who that is and what format that takes is a complex question.''

The Hawks, who were offered $7.5 million by the AFL in 2011 to vacate Tasmania in favour of North, believe the league would prefer a weaker club to cement itself here.

The Kangaroos, who are also pursuing options to play in Ballarat, have confirmed they will push to play three home games at the soon-to-be-redeveloped Bellerive Oval next year.

Chief executive Carl Dilena said: ``We can achieve an extra game there next year with the new Etihad agreement, but no more at this stage.''

Fox also rejected McLachlan's claim that the one-team model was an attempt to unite Tasmania.

``This North-South divide debate is ridiculous because we're trying to create great rivalry in Adelaide, in Perth, in Sydney, in Queensland, why can't a great battle between two good clubs happen in Tasmania?'' Fox told Melbourne radio station SEN yesterday.

``We've always been very supportive if Tassie ever gets a team, and wants a fully fledged team, then that would be the time Hawthorn would have to move out.

``But in my opinion it would be very hard to financially hold a team up down there, it's hard enough in some of the big state markets to do that.

``I think it'd be a shame to ruin the current model that's working, and we're really supportive of North playing a couple of extra games down there.

``I'm probably curious how a one-team model would work, because I think if either Hawthorn or North Melbourne were to relocate eight games, they'd have significant issues, because I think [their boards] would probably be kicked out by their members.''

Hawthorn has played home games in Launceston since 2001 and North has been in Hobart since 2012.


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