Former Virgin boss Brett Godfrey sits behind the wheel of the Tasmanian AFL taskforce, driving the state to finally have its own team.
The taskforce is nearly half way to a six-month deadline to outline why a new 19th Tassie club will succeed.
HAVE YOUR SAY: Pledge your support for a Tasmanian AFL team here.
Godfrey spoke to sports reporter Andrew Mathieson about what Tasmania needs to overcome three decades of stagnation and despair.
ANDREW MATHIESON: How does the Tasmanian taskforce persuade the AFL to back the state's push?
BRETT GODFREY: We must, firstly, demonstrate both a sustainable and compelling business case. It is also incumbent upon the taskforce to find value for the AFL - it is a business, after all. Astute businesses defend their hubs, pillars or existing markets as a priority to growth. Tasmania is a founding football heartland state and has demonstrated it is at risk without clarity over an AFL-linked future.
AM: From when the state government backed its last push for a team more than a decade ago, how do you debunk the myths attached to its 2008 AFL report?
BG: The loud and clear messages was the state was hopelessly divided and it was two small for a north or south-centric team. Tasmania 2019 is not the same Tasmania of 2008. It is more vibrant, confident and economically successful. The narrative is justifiable optimism, but our goal is to substantiate the economics to discredit future arguments.
AM: What plans so far are there for Launceston to play a role in a Tasmanian team?
BG: I can say there is no Tasmanian team if there is no Launceston ... or Hobart. With just 500,000 people in the state, we need Tasmania to play the lead role. Frankly, the taskforce hasn't settled on too much yet, but one thing is certain and that is Launceston is key to our plans and its success.
AM: Do you think the AFL will provide the same sort of assistance for a Tasmanian team as it did GWS and Gold Coast to include financial and salary cap support, as well as draft concessions?
BG: We would hope that our work indicates that this team should hit the ground running. We are a long, historic founding footy state that is rebuilding its player pathways. We don't have to explain the game or grow a market. It is here and it is probably the most engaged audience in the country. That bodes well for us being a low risk or insurance option for the AFL. As mentioned we need to show we add value to the AFL, so being a subsidised club would be counter to any business case of ours.
AM: How do you believe their team will assist aspiring Tasmanian-bred players to achieve an AFL career?
BG: Kids need mentors, heroes and role models. And they should be accessible. They also need aspirational goals. Today's aspiring 12-year-old boys and girls playing footy should be able to believe that they can play at the most elite level without having to leave home. If we don't push for this now, other sports will continue to erode our juniors, who become tomorrow's AFL and AFLW crowds and viewers. That has to worry those who have a love of the national game.
AM: What will be required in terms of facilities and any possible upgrades in Launceston and Hobart for a Tasmanian AFL team?
BG: We think today's facilities will as a minimum require upgrading by a possible entry date. We also think to successfully attract and retain competitive talent our facilities can't just match AFL standards. World class differentiation, attraction and location warrants some big-ticket thinking.
AM: In the taskforce's investigations, how does the financial case stack up to fund the estimated $60 million it takes to run a club?
BG: We do not believe $60 million is the number. We are more focused, frankly, on building a case that shows the bottom line to be positive. To answer your question, it is dependent upon the mix or type of revenue but $40-50 million in today dollars is ballpark.
AM: How would a new club attempt to grow its fan base considering a large number of supporters in the North are already Hawthorn fans and overcoming the generational support of many Victorian AFL clubs?
BG: We just need to look over the fence to SA and WA to see how establishment clubs there pretty quickly converted members or they became a favourite second club. Of course, if the Hawks or North continued to service their Tasmanian fans against the home team, you could see wonderfully supported local rivalries develop.