The Tasmanian State League’s future was officially confirmed for 2019 and beyond on Thursday, however, division still lingers in the ranks.
After long and “robust” discussions a “majority” of TSL clubs have given their support on balance to keep the state’s top-tier competition alive, at least until the existing 10-year licence agreements expire in 2023.
Presidents were presented with a proposal on Wednesday and given little time for consideration before it was hastily announced ahead of AFL boss Gillon McLachlan unveiling the steering committee’s full recommendations for Tasmania’s football future in Hobart on Tuesday.
Fairfax Media understands North Launceston and Glenorchy are yet to agree full stop, while Launceston has offered its conditional support.
The proposed plans will see clubs receive $110,000 in AFL funding – an increase of $3000 a year on 2018 –but will have to individually agree and stick to key performance indicators around strategy, structure, community and people.
The AFL has backed down on previous threats to change the league’s name, to stop live streaming matches and therefore do away with the match review panel, and deeming all clubs a failure should one club not sufficiently meet its KPIs.
Clubs will now have their funding reduced and licences terminated as a last resort.
AFL Tasmania will take over responsibility for the North-West development zone and work towards a side from the region being represented in the TSL.
Community engagement, participation programs and talent programs will be carried out under a “Team Tasmania banner and TAC competition brand”, the development league will become an open-age competition, and clubs will have to foot a large percentage of travel costs.
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The Northern Bombers and Blues have rejected a $1000 transport subsidy offer and asked for an improved proposal.
AFL Tasmania this year provides clubs with a bus for away games and a second one for five out of seven trips to transport three teams and staff.
Details around women’s football, a salary cap and points system, re-zoning, equal rostering, ground fees and finals are yet to be finalised.
AFL Tasmania chief executive Trisha Squires, who was flanked by presidents from Clarence, Tigers and Lauderdale at the announcement, refused to name the two clubs not yet convinced by the outcome.
She reiterated no formal agreement had been met.
“The TSL presidents are passionate, hard working people and I really admire their commitment.
The TSL competition and its clubs are an important part of the Tasmanian football community,” she said.
Launceston president Sandra Boland said she would review the proposal with her board before fully pledging support.
“All clubs are not on the same page. Plans have changed significantly since we met a week ago with Rob Auld when they gave us two weeks to respond with our KPIs,” she said.
“And then all of a sudden within 24 hours we were all asked to say yes to this proposal. It took me a long time to reply because it’s a big decision.
“I agreed in principle to the guidelines subject to continuing negotiations in regard to funding Northern clubs’ travel and-or re-rostering to balance it out. We’re happy the TSL will continue but this has been too rushed.”
North boss Thane Brady said “a tick for one group isn’t necessarily a tick for another” and that TSL remained without a growth or improvement strategy.
“It would appear the AFL will announce additional investment in Tasmanian football overall which is welcomed on the face,” he said.
“With only one slide provided by the AFL as a guide to their TSL plan it’s impossible at this stage to say with any certainty if overall we will be at break even or deficit on current position.
“This current futures plan should have been our starting point rather than the end outcome. Rob Auld informed us we lacked community football support, however, public statements seems to contradict Mr Auld.
“We have communicated to the AFL our disappointment in the overall experience and the proposed outcome and have declined to show public support for the plan.
“We also confirmed we will continue to participate in good faith in further discussions relating to the operational changes proposed.”
Tasmanian Football Council chairman and NTFA president Paul Reynolds said he has been blindsided by Thursday’s developments.
Speculation is rife McLachlan will announce the Mariners’ return to the TAC Cup, funding for community football administrators and plans for a Tasmanian VFL team in 2021.