AFL boss Gillon McLachlan will chair a high powered steering committee to try to resolve the crisis in Tasmanian football.
McLachlan announced in Hobart on Wednesday that the committee would make recommendations by April 14 on new talent pathways for young Tasmanian footballers and the future of the TSL by June 30.
“What Tasmanians need is a clear vision and a structure that they own, that’s what we’ve got to get right in the coming weeks and months,” he said.
The committee includes AFL Tasmania CEO Trisha Squires, Carlton coach Brendon Bolton, former St Kilda captain Nick Reiwoldt, AFL head of game development Rob Auld and AFL state league and international manager Simon Laughton.
McLachlan said the committee would liaise with all TSL clubs and others with an interest in football.
“I’ve had meetings with many people in the last few weeks with many proposed solutions including increased funding for the TSL mode, splitting the TSL into two conferences, getting a Tasmanian team into the VFL, overhauling the talent pathway for 12 to 15 year olds and having a Tasmanian team in the TAC Cup,” he said.
“The committee will provide key recommendations on the State League and sustainability and options to improve the talent pathway and the investments and structures required to support growth in football in 2018 and beyond.
“We want a robust, sustainable community football structure that Tasmanians can support in their towns and regions, however that is structured.
“We won’t let Tasmanian football go without but solutions are not easy and will take time.”
Following the withdrawal of Burnie and Devonport from the TSL, McLachlan promised to visit the North West and Launceston this year.
“I’m encouraged that the clubs are going back into the North Western football league and if say a club like Burnie was folding, it would be a bigger concern,” he said.
“A lot of people have talked to me about driving up to four hours each way for a game of football and I understand that.”
McLachlan said he understood people were “time poor” and that many players got paid more to play in lower leagues where they did not have to travel.
“This is an issue across the country and why we introduced the points system to deal with that and it will be considered in the review,” he said.
As a sign of goodwill he announced immediate funding of $200,000 to subsidise the levies of all Tasmanian junior players selected in the AFL Tasmanian talent program.
McLachlan was grilled about Tasmania having an AFL team and acknowledged the frustration of Tasmanians that it had not happened.
“I’d love Tasmania to have an AFL team, Tasmanians deserve their own team but I’ve been real about the challenges of having one,” he said.