After a long process and a slight delay, AFL chief executive Gillon McLachlan has finally announced his steering committee’s recommendations for football’s future in Tasmania.
Established in March following the withdrawal of Devonport and Burnie from the under-siege Tasmanian State League and the death of several regional leagues/clubs, the committee has spent the past three months devising a rescue plan.
Last week, a majority of State League clubs bowed to an in-principle agreement to keep Tasmania’s flagship competition alive until at least 2023 and it was reported the state would work towards a 2021 VFL return.
TSL clubs have criticised the committee and its process but McLachlan announced the following key recommendations “to rebuild and unify Tasmanian football over then next three years” in Hobart on Tuesday morning:
- The AFL will invest an extra $1.4 million in Tasmania in 2019
- Create three regional administration hubs to help run community football
- Generate affiliation with community leagues
- The TSL will remain the state’s top-tier competition and continue to receive AFL funding
- Extend Tasmania’s junior pathways from under-12s to under-18s with more opportunities to play in intrastate tournaments. Junior levies will also be removed.
- A full-time under-18s Mariners program with Tasmania to compete in the TAC Cup 2019.
- Tasmania has been granted a provisional licence to re-enter the VFL in 2021.
- There will be greater investment in the talent pathway for women with a girls’ side to take part in TAC Cup in 2020.
- A Tasmanian advisory board, made up of Tasmanians, will be set up to oversee changes in the next three years.
- All programs to be re-branded under a name to be decided by the Tasmanian people.
McLachlan said the success of these plans would help determine a timeline for a possible Tasmanian AFL team and that extending Tasmania’s support of Hawthorn and North Melbourne was not part of the committee’s brief.
Extra funding will be given to the North-West Coast with a talent manager to be employed in the region for the first time.
The committee – comprising of McLachlan, AFL Tasmania boss Trisha Squires, Carlton coach Brendon Bolton, former St Kilda captain Nick Riewoldt, AFL game development head Rob Auld and AFL state league manager Simon Laughton – met with a small number of Tasmanian football stakeholders throughout the process.
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