Tasmania's own Chris Fagan has masterminded the Brisbane Lions' best shot at a premiership since 2004.
But even as his side enters the 2019 Final Series from 2nd place with crucial matches ahead, Fagan has kept the bid for a Tasmanian AFL team close to his heart.
He spoke with Adam Holmes from The Examiner about the need for a statewide united front, what would make a Tasmanian team successful on the field, lessons from the Gold Coast and GWS expansions, and why he's so passionate about the cause.
TIME TO DECIDE:
AH: Do you think a Tasmanian team can work in a national competition with 19 teams?
CF: I'm not sure about the 19 teams thing, I'm not sure how that'd actually come about.
But yes, the people that are behind it at the moment have set up the right infrastructure. If the state is fully behind what's happening - and I mean every part of the state, they're not arguing about where it should be and that sort of business - yes, it could work.
That's the key to it for me.
AH: Is the closest that we've been so far in light of past failed bids?
CF: It feels like that, it feels like it's more organised and thought through and serious. Importantly I think the AFL is taking it seriously, that's a very important part of the equation.
I think there's some love all around for the concept, and some good people behind it.
AH: What do you see as some of the barriers that exist at the moment in Tasmania that need to be overcome before this can happen?
CF: Regionalism is probably the biggest issue that I see.
I've lived and worked down in Hobart and up on the North-West coast so I understand the rivalry. It's healthy in sport when you're competing against each other, but when it's to try to get a Tasmanian team and everybody argues about where it should be based, and where it should play its home games and those sorts of things, I tell you what happens, people over here on the mainland laugh and laugh about our state and the way we can't seem to work it out together.
That's a little bit embarrassing. It doesn't make any sense that that's what we do. We all say we want a Tasmanian team, then when it comes to it, we all argue about little things like that.
For me, it needs - and this is what's happening - a united front. We want a team for Tasmania, and we can work out the details - where the games are played - later.
You look at AFL teams around the country and basically where are they located? They're located in the capital cities, whether those states like it or not, that's where it is.
Our cricket team is located in Hobart, that's been a successful team for a long time, we should take our lead from cricket in some ways that they've been able to get a team in a national competition because they've been able to work those things out.
For me, that's a big issue.
I think the money side of it, there will be plenty of people willing to sponsor and I think the government will get behind it.
Depending on the make-up of the team to begin with, it could take a little while to establish itself as a strong entity, but that's been the case for a number of teams but you get there in the end.
AH: So at the moment, it's not so much worrying about that divide between matches in Launceston and Hobart, it's just getting everyone on the same page?
CF: We're Tasmanians.
We're a little state if we regionalise it. We're a big state with a big voice if everyone's on the same page.
AH: You were at UTAS Stadium recently with the Lions, can you see an AFL team based at those facilities or is it going to need some significant upgrades for a training base and other aspects?
CF: In the long-term, if the money was available, the building of a new stadium would be sensational for Tasmania wherever it is.
They're adequate at UTAS, don't get me wrong, we had no problems when we played there, the rooms are fine. You have all that you need.
Obviously that team would need a good training base. All the infrastructure around it would be important.
It probably doesn't necessarily have to be done before the team starts up. You've got Bellerive, you've got UTAS oval that you can play AFL on now, they're great surfaces.
In that regard there's not an issue.
AH: As a senior coach and someone who's been a part of successful coaching teams, what are you looking for - what are the essential things this club would need to be successful as an actual footy team?
CF: It always starts with good people in the right positions.
A strong CEO, an experienced footy manager, great medical people, great fitness people, solid coaching group.
It's more the people for me that matter the most, getting the right people in the right places.
From there, it'll grow.
That's the critical thing.
AH: So it's not about pumping tens of millions of dollars into a state of the art training facility, you just need to get those fundamentals right first?
CF: You've got to get that bit right first, and if you get the other bit, it's a bonus.
But it's not the be all and end all.
AH: Do the talent pathways exist in Tasmania at the moment, or is that something that needs to be worked on?
CF: The talent pathways that exist in Tasmania are the same talent pathways that exist all around the country.
There's no issue there.
If we were to get an AFL team in Tasmania, that would probably increase people's interest in the sport and probably lead to a growth in participation numbers, which in turn should turn up even more talent.
When it's on your front door step, the AFL competition and a team, then I think that does inspire young Tasmanian men and women to want to play the game at the highest level.
If anything, it would help the talent pathway because it would attract more young people to our sport.
AH: The Gold Coast Suns were able to attract marquee, elite players. Do you think Tasmania would have that same pull factor to get some elite players wanting to be part of the foundation team?
CF: I can't see why not.
The types of guys you look for there are your older, experienced types that might be coming towards the end of their careers but they're great characters that have had excellent experience.
They can help that young group grow and develop in its early phases.
There's always those sorts of guys around that would be interested in that sort of opportunity.
AH: Can the AFL take some of the lessons from the Gold Coast and GWS expansions around giving them priority picks, would it be a similar sort of setup?
CF: It was staggered to start with, Gold Coast coming first then GWS coming a little bit later.
The GWS one was done a little bit better than the Gold Coast one.
The AFL has learnt as they've gone along about what's required and if the Tassie team comes along, I'm sure the process will be even more refined than it was for those two teams.
AH: What was better about the GWS expansion? We can obviously see the outcomes now, but at the time, what was different?
CF: I don't know the exact detail, it's hard to recall in terms of high end picks and that business.
The thing that sticks out for me is that GWS, the older guys they got to their club like Luke Power, James McDonald, Chad Cornes for example, were great people and excellent football players.
They did that part of it just a bit better than the Gold Coast.
They were steady characters who could help the other young boys as they learn about the game.
This is no criticism of Guy McKenna, but Guy McKenna was the coach of that side and he'd never coached before. Kevin Sheedy was the coach of GWS - he's a man of huge experience, a massive network and understood the game - straight away you can see there that they got the people thing a bit more right than the Gold Coast did.
That's not a criticism of the Gold Coast, because I'm talking about experience, not character.
AH: Would there be consternation from other clubs about another team further draining the talent pool, or getting access to their elite players?
CF: That's something you don't know until it starts up.
I imagine there'd be some angst if they were getting access to their elite players.
I think they'd be more accepting of draft concessions.
All the clubs, they have their own interests at heart, so they'll always come at it from that angle. That's not something that'd be a blocker to having Tasmania in the AFL.
Everyone gets over it and moves on eventually.
AH: From your speaking with people in AFL circles, does this Tasmania bid have that almost unanimous, sentimental support? No one really says anything negative about a Tasmania bid?
CF: They wouldn't because Tasmania was a founding state of AFL footy.
Everyone knows it won't be a truly national competition until Tasmania has a team in it.
Us, along with WA, SA and Victoria, were the original footy states.
It seems odd that here we are, the AFL is what - 30-40 years old - we haven't been able to include a Tasmanian team.
But hopefully a way can be found.
AH: Any reason why that hasn't happened yet?
CF: Tasmania has always been seen as an audience that's already been captured in terms of AFL.
The expansion clubs were about TV rights and attracting more people to watching the game in other markets.
I can understand all that - Tassie people watch football, and probably per head of population they'd watch more footy than anyone else does. I don't know that for sure, but it wouldn't surprise me.
Everybody's passionate about their own team.
I just feel like there's been a change of attitude towards it. I don't know why, but the people at head office are thinking more about it.
We need everybody to jump on that website that's been set up to pledge your support for the Tassie side, www.unitedwestand.com.au. I reckon that'd be a good show of strenght.
I think it's great that all the papers in Tassie are jumping on board. I like the sound of that.
And it can't be political. That's partly a problem as well, the fact that Tasmania is a sensitive state in terms of elections, its' swinging electorates, we can't use football as a tool to persuade people to vote one way or the other, everyone has to be on the same page.
AH: That's what appeared to happen at the recent federal election?
CF: I was made aware of that. I was really disappointed when I heard about that, but not surprised.
AH: If Tassie is not about growing a market like the other expansion clubs, is it about sentimentality rather than anything economic?
CF: It's about sentimentality, but it's also about what is right and fair.
Why would we have a team in the Sheffield Shield competition for years and years, and not have a team in the national football competition. It doesn't make any sense to me.
Not everything has to be about money.
AH: Is this something that you personally dedicate much thought or consideration to when you're at that elite level in the AFL coaching, do you have much time to reflect on Tassie and the Tassie bid?
CF: I was on the steering committee for Tassie footy last year, so I've been prepared to put my time on the line to help Tassie out.
I'm grateful for the opportunities that I got there to help me start up my footy playing career and, then more lately, my coaching and administration stuff.
I feel that, without the opportunities I had down there, I wouldn't be doing what I'm doing now.
I'm grateful, and I'm absolutely keen to help as long as everybody is on the same page.