Tasmania is set to be invited to join the AFL.
In a major exclusive, The Shaw Thing can reveal that the national football competition will offer the island state its 19th licence - but with conditions.
Former Geelong president and AFL Commissioner Colin Carter's review into the Tasmanian Taskforce's business case is not due to be made public yet, but a leaked copy reveals exactly how the AFL plans to integrate the long-forgotten state.
Apparently, Tasmania's submission has been extensively scrutinised by the AFL's most knowledgeable and informed strategists. Brian Taylor and James Brayshaw have also seen it.
Observations, criticisms and proposals can be seen scribbled in the margins, Taylor's in assorted coloured crayons.
After many months studying the one-page submission, Carter has reached the conclusion that the only thing standing in the way of a Tasmanian AFL team is the AFL.
The news will doubtless delight Tasmanian Premier Peter Gutwein - currently as popular at AFL House as Alexei Navalny is at the Kremlin (and about as well treated) - who has pioneered the state's hardline approach of suspending the $8 million annual donation to the existing Hawthorn and North Melbourne deals.
Carter's ground-breaking report concludes: "Despite extensive studies and investigations, my team has been unable to locate a flaw in Tasmania's business case and is therefore prepared to concede that, after decades of providing the VFL/AFL with hardcore support and an unending stream of playing talent, the state probably does just about deserve its own team."
However, he stipulated that granting Tasmania the licence must come with several non-negotiable conditions.
Repeated verbatim from the leaked report, these conditions are:
- The state of Tasmania will be responsible for 100 per cent of the operating costs of the team, including its transport, ground and sustenance, along with the travel, accommodation and entertaining costs of all league support staff including the AFL Commission, the Commission's partners, the partners' friends, relatives, hairdressers and casual acquaintances, and all their pets.
- The state's inclusion will not compromise existing arrangements with Hawthorn or North Melbourne, whose contracts to play in Tasmania will be extended for a period not less than 50 years at an incremental annual increase of 30 per cent, to be paid for by the state of Tasmania.
- Keen to learn from past mistakes of over-compensation which allowed Greater Western Sydney to become too competitive way too soon, the AFL will give the new Tasmanian franchise no draft incentives. Instead, the Gold Coast Suns will continue to receive priority picks ad infinitum and will henceforth be assigned Tasmania as an additional recruiting zone. Any costs incurred in this rezoning will be met by the state of Tasmania.
- Obviously, a relevant name is an essential part of the equation. If we leave this to the franchise, they will doubtless come up with something totally inappropriate, like an endemic poisonous ant for instance. So our 4000-strong marketing department has done it for them. The team will be called the Tassie Convicts. This has a historic link to the state's colonial heritage but also carries the subtle message to make sure they never forget that we hold the key to their freedom.
- All branding, promotion, advertising and merchandising costs will be met by the state of Tasmania.
- In order to finally dispense with the parochialism that the AFL has long used as an excuse for hampering Tasmania's case, rather than play matches at either UTAS Stadium or Bellerive, the AFL proposes a brand new super-stadium that will benefit all. To guarantee complete impartiality for all parties, our strategists have used the major city in each region to come to the perfect geographical conclusion. Drawing a direct line between Hobart and Burnie, and dissecting this at the point closest to Launceston, we have decided that the optimum location for a 30,000-capacity non-parochial stadium is on the Central Plateau Conservation Area, midway between Lake Rowallan and Lake Augusta in the Walls of Jerusalem National Park. Unfortunately, there are no roads nearby, but encouraging spectators to bushwalk to matches should ensure a healthy attendance. The stadium will be paid for by the state of Tasmania.
- The date for Tasmania's commencement in the competition will be at some stage in the next millennium, to be determined by the AFL, if and when they see fit.
Carter said that AFL chief executive Gillon McLachlan had endorsed the plan, commenting that it met all the stipulations he had requested and exceeded all his expectations.
"I'm sure when Tasmanians hear this news and study the fineprint, they will be left in no doubt just how much the AFL really wants the state to be part of a truly national competition," McLachlan said.
Carter's findings are expected to be made public on Thursday (April 1).