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TROUBLED State League franchise the Prospect Hawks will not forfeit their TSL licence despite advising AFL Tasmania that they will be unable to field a senior team in the competition next season.
The board of the re-badged franchise which replaced the Western Storm, advised AFL Tasmania and club presidents at a meeting on Wednesday that they were unable to field a competitive senior team in 2016, in breach of their licence obligations.
A shortage of experienced players, concerns about injury-risk to their young players and big defeats meant they were unable to meet their obligations.
Their preferred proposal put to the meeting was to field a Development League team only, building toward a senior side by 2018 at the latest.
It is understood that AFL Tasmania agreed not to withdraw their licence if there was majority support from the other TSL clubs for the proposal – which was received.
It means that Launceston will be represented by two State League clubs only in the senior competition next season and AFL Tasmania faces the dilemma of dealing with a nine-team competition and possible bye when their preferred model is for ten.
‘‘It is good that we can provide that certainty to the playing group we have and we are committed to getting a senior team back into the competition by 2017, but the proposal provides for up to two years,’’ Prospect Hawks president Michelle Strickland said.
‘‘We’ve got a large pool of talented young players who will be pressing to play in the senior league in the not too distant future and we will continue to work with them and prepare ourselves to re-enter as early as possible.’’
AFL Tasmania said they remained committed to a 10-team competition but believed that the decision provided time and support for the Prospect Hawks to develop and mature to achieve that objective.
‘‘The overwhelming support of today’s proposal by the majority of the other TSL clubs provides the Prospect Hawks with an opportunity to carefully plan for re-entering the senior TSL competition and lay the foundations for long term success,’’ AFL Tasmania chief executive Scott Wade said.
TSL general manager Shaun Young said the meeting was a strong display of unity from the clubs.
North Launceston president Thane Brady said his club was the only dissenter at the meeting because after considering the information they had no confidence that participating only in the DL competition would set Prospect up to be a competitive and sustainable TSL club playing out of Prospect Park within the next two years.
Fairfax Media understands that one of the options that AFL Tasmania is considering to overcome the problem of a nine-team competition would be to allow the Tassie Mariners to play as the tenth team in the TSL next season.