The prospect of Tasmania gaining their own team in the AFL was put on the agenda without notice at a meeting of clubs hosted by AFL CEO Gillon McLachlan on Thursday.
In a discussion about the progress of football in the Apple Isle that included the extent of Hawthorn and North Melbourne's presence in the state, the issue of a stand-alone team was raised with several club CEOs keen to canvass views on the contentious matter.
Hawthorn and North Melbourne have contracts lasting until 2021 to play four games apiece in the state with the Hawks playing at Launceston and the Kangaroos playing their home games in Hobart.
McLachlan reiterated a view he has expressed publicly that while it would be ideal for one club to play in Tasmania, the AFL was happy with the status quo and were not going to force the issue raising the question among those at the meeting as to whether a stand-alone team in Tasmania may come into being in the future if circumstances changed.
Clubs have no issue with Hawthorn or North Melbourne's presence in the state but there are some concerns that arguments defending the AFL's decision to pursue their expansion agenda on the Gold Coast have been based on economically rational arguments that point to the opportunities for growth in participation and numbers in the south east of Queensland.
However it's understood that Richmond CEO Brendon Gale, who grew up in Tasmania, expressed the view that dollars should not drive every football decision particularly when it came to a football heartland such as Tasmania and that the custodians of the national code have a responsibility to ensure the game is healthy and supported in all parts of the country.
Tasmanian football has been a cause for concern in recent years with the AFL forced into action at the end of 2017 when the extent of the decline became obvious late last year with just one player drafted and two clubs pulled out of the Tasmanian State League at the same time AFL Tasmania CEO Rob Auld returned to Victoria to work for the AFL.
A working party was subsequently set up with McLachlan heavily involved in reviewing progress of the 2016's future directions of Tasmanian football report during this season, chairing the committee that included coaches such as Chris Fagan and Brendon Bolton and former St Kilda great Nick Riewoldt.
Those discussions led to the AFL releasing recommendations in July promising an extra $1.4 million funding, the re-introduction of a Tasmanian team into the TAC Cup in 2019 and a provisional licence being granted that would allow Tasmania to have a team in the VFL in 2021.
The steering committee also heard arguments that the state needed the potential of a stand-alone team to give them a chance to mobilise support for such a move.
That the discussion veered off in the direction of a stand-alone team surprised some at the CEOs meeting as it indicated that some clubs remain concerned about the progress of the AFL's expansion agenda.
Four of Australian football's hall of fame legends come from Tasmania.
There were three players from Tasmania drafted this season - with North Melbourne's Tarryn Thomas and Adelaide's Chayce Jones being picked inside the top 10 - while Richmond picked Clarence's Fraser Turner with pick 58.