So it turns out the AFL isn't the highest authority within Tasmania after all.
Certainly nobody in AFL House.
Apparently there's some self-important body going around calling itself "the Tasmanian Government" that seems to think it has some sort of power of veto over important decisions.
Who do they think they are? Just because they give themselves some highfalutin title doesn't mean they can change the way things have always been done around here.
Take pivotal rulings about border restrictions out of the hands of Gillon McLachlan and expect them to be made by people with no vested interest in footy games going ahead, like this Peter Gutwein upstart, and we're surely only a drop punt away from anarchy.
Forget the escalating US-China crisis, the real threat of World War 3 is emerging on Hobart's Eastern Shore.
The battleplans for this latest skirmish have been followed to the letter from the AFL handbook.
It's a tried and tested strategy with a proven success record.
First they come up with a manifesto that ignores any established criteria; then, they allow a local media to break the story to guarantee maximum publicity; next, they announce it formally complete with the proviso that it requires local authority approval; and finally they sit back and wait for the local authority to provide said approval.
ELSEWHERE IN SPORT:
- OPINION: Sport's welfare or wealth call
- OPINION: World sport kicks off
- McSweyn ponders Tokyo program
- OPINION: Survival of the fittest
- OPINION: No winners at limbo world champs
- Coronavirus halts Birtwhistle's Olympic preparations
- OPINION: Bass sporting pork needs barrelling
- Rescheduled Games get warm Tassie welcome
- Top 10: Tasmanian sporting moments 2019
For legal reasons it would be unwise to use the word blackmail, but It would be difficult to think of a clearer example of trying to force Tasmania's hand.
Tuesday's North Melbourne press release announcing Hobart fixtures against Melbourne and Brisbane under the headline "Tassie games secured" was textbook stuff, accurate in every detail apart from the fact that they weren't.
Approximately one million eyebrows were raised on the heads of Tasmanians under the belief border restrictions prevented this (two million eyebrows if we really do have two heads each).
"North Melbourne will head to Tasmania for Rounds 11 and 12," proclaimed the release, adding that chief executive Ben Amarfio was "absolutely thrilled with the outcome".
"We love playing in Hobart and we're looking forward to spending some time at The Old Woolstore, which is a bit like a second home to us," he said, successfully managing to announce something that wasn't actually happening with plugging a valued accommodation partner his team wouldn't be frequenting.
"Our return wouldn't be possible without the support of the Tasmanian State Government."
Too right mate. But that would be the same Tasmanian State Government that was probably only just finding out about the fixtures itself.
Amarfio wasn't finished.
"These matches simply wouldn't be possible without the levels of cooperation we've had from Premier Gutwein, Minister Howlett and Events Tasmania. We are very thankful for that and we look forward to playing a few more matches in Hobart later this season too."
At no point in the release did it add the not insignificant asterisk which subsequently adorned the AFL website story, namely: "*pending border restrictions being eased".
Five words that would have rendered the previous 361 virtually meaningless.
Although the accompanying AFL release did include the phrase "pending State Government exemption", it also quoted clubs general manager Travis Auld implying imminent border restriction changes were a fait accompli.
"Both the AFL and North Melbourne are heavily invested into footy in Hobart and we are very happy for the state and the city to host two matches at Blundstone Arena," he said. "I would like to thank Premier Gutwein and his team for making this happen."
All very good and above board. Except Gutwein hadn't. And wasn't about to.
As he was to say three days later when reaffirming border restrictions with the Eastern Seaboard states: "We will not do anything that we believe will put the health of Tasmanians at risk and so to be frank, in terms of the AFL, that is the least of my considerations."
North Melbourne was forced to issue another release, headlined "Club Statement on Tasmania", in which Amarfio said the Kangaroos would "obviously endeavour to secure replacement games in Hobart when the borders re-open to Queensland".
It would be tempting to suggest the AFL were attempting to move the goalposts at Bellerive Oval, except up to this point Tasmanians had been told there weren't going to be any.
Complications over replacing cricket sightscreens with footy posts had rendered the ground a cricket-only venue for 2020, forcing resident State League club Clarence to play home games in Richmond.
However, this situation was reversed this week by a contract relinquishment agreement which paved the way for the AFL's Roos to return, but apparently not the TSL's.
Far be it from me to suggest North Melbourne and Hawthorn are only pushing for games in Tasmania to fulfil their contractual obligations and collect their $8 million sponsorship money. That would be unnecessary, because I did it last week.
It may be tantamount to treason in this footy-mad country, but, for the time being at least, the Tasmanian Premier appears to be making policy decisions based on the health of Tasmanians rather than the finances of AFL clubs.