Amid a common perception that Melbourne head office from afar is pulling the state's strings, AFL Tasmania boss Trisha Squires insists there is nothing sinister about the sudden call to hit the pause button over its VFL entry bid.
AFL Tasmania sent out a brief 55-word statement on Sunday afternoon to media over waiting for the Tasmanian Taskforce to submit its findings to state parliament over a Devils AFL side before first getting the nod for 2021.
Squires presented a case to the AFL in early August and had told The Mercury that AFL Tasmania expected its provisional licence to be approved later that month, but told The Examiner the end of September and later said sometime in October.
The changes have since been attributed to moving of the goalposts on the parameters of the Taskforce's powers.
"At the beginning it wasn't clear that the VFL was going to be something they would be discussing," Squires said.
"It was predominantly just around an AFL team and an AFL women's team, but as time has gone on and the consultation has continued, what the Taskforce realised and in turn AFL Tasmania is what they are discussing would involve a VFL side.
"So at that point I communicated [with the AFL] that I have discussed the application with the Taskforce and we have talked through what some of the positives will be to have a VFL side first.
"It was only at that point that once the VFL side was going to be important and part of the report that was tabled to the government, the decision was made to just hold until December."
Squires said there was no internal pressures from the AFL to collude with the report nor had the AFL privately rejected the bid. She also defended the decision not to postpone its VFL bid mid-year at the time of the formation of the Taskforce.
The Taskforce have since explored how a Devils VFL side could interact with an a AFL side and how it could affect a VFL starting date.
"It is hard to speculate just yet," Squires said.
"I am having dialogue with the Taskforce, but they have so many moving parts of that report and how the VFL would intertwined with that.
"There was some discussion with the Taskforce about the year of entry, which we talked whether a 2021 versus 2022 entry would happen, and there is two sides to it.
"If you delay into 2022, the talent that is in Tasmania currently could leave to play in another state league.
"There has never been a conclusion, but a discussion of the pros and cons of both."
The concern would be for the Devils under-18 program that kicked off this year.
The return to the elite NAB Cup could tempt a number of Tasmanians to pursue Victorian clubs while also robbing TSL sides of their juniors.
Squires said the Taskforce understood the implications of retaining continuity for all future Devils programs.
"One of the real drivers for this is to have an opportunity for Tasmanian talent to stay in Tasmania," she said.
"That's what the VFL offers so we don't want Tasmanians having to leave to play a higher level of football."
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