AFL Taskforce member Grant O'Brien has described the commitment from the AFL to finally provide an answer about a potential Tasmanian team as a "really positive outcome".
After some tense moments following the release of the Carter report into the business plan for the team, which included Premier Peter Gutwein threatening not to rollover the government's contracts with Hawthorn and North Melbourne, and therefore presenting the option of no AFL in Tasmania next year, the premier and the AFL confirmed on Tuesday that a "time frame for a decision on a Tasmanian AFL licence" had been established.
A decision on a Tasmanian license is set to be made "as early as possible next year".
It will be made in line with the finalisation of the funding model for the AFL industry for the 2023 and 2024 seasons.
The league and the government will "work through the matters raised in the Carter report" ahead of a final position being put to club presidents.
"There are steps along this path to delivering Tassie its own team and this really is a positive outcome," former Woolworths chief executive and Penguin premiership player O'Brien said.
"When you look at where this started when the government asked the taskforce to see if a team was possible and viable and then the report [the business case] came out which said it was, that report was a step in the right direction and debunked a lot of myths about the team.
"The Carter report was a review undertaken by the AFL and that came out really clearly and categorically that Tasmania should have its own team and now we have moved on from that to that the AFL has given us a commitment by the way of a time frame that logically connects to their funding model moving forward.
"It actually makes a lot of sense. The culmination of the discussions the AFL must have to work out their funding and the key instruments, like how much they pay the players via the EBA, allows them to make a fully informed decision about the AFL team."
O'Brien said the Carter report had "made and answered a lot of the arguments about an AFL team".
"So they don't need to be re-prosecuted, there are just a couple of points that the AFL want a level of comfort on, like ongoing government support and infrastructure, which is very natural,'' he added.
Premier Gutwein described it as a "win-win" as "Tassie footy fans get yet another season of top class footy played in Tasmania and we will finally have a decision on our own Tassie team".
AFL chief executive Gillon McLachlan added: "We need to finalise the industry funding model with the 18 clubs given the continuing impact of the COVID pandemic and have undertaken that once that work is done and we have worked through the steps identified by the Carter review, the AFL commission will put a position to the clubs for decision on a licence for a team to represent Tasmania."
The AFL's revised funding model will take into account the club funding and the collective bargaining agreement for 2023 and 2024, and will be finalised "at the earliest opportunity during the 2022 season".
The announcement came as the state prepares to host sold-out elimination finals at UTAS Stadium between Sydney and GWS and Western Bulldogs and Essendon, with Premier Gutwein also confirming in question time on Tuesday that there was a chance of semi-finals or even a hub in the state as well.
He said those discussions with the AFL were "ongoing".
"It says a lot that the AFL has turned to Tassie to host a couple of finals games and maybe more,'' O'Brien said.
"They did that because it is a footy state and they did that because it gives them the opportunity in a way to communicate to the public of Tasmania it is important, that the state is important and they get that.
"That is an important part of Carter's work, that it is a footy state and it needs to be invested in and the cost of establishing the team is a reasonable cost.
"This doesn't necessarily go down that path, but it does go to the fact that they turn to Tassie to host the finals supports the argument it is a footy state and that we need to do things to make sure it stays a footy state.
"These finals will start to do in a way what we think the club will do in the long term, to encourage interest and participation in the game.
"So it is a little insight of what we think will come when Tasmania has its own team, and that's when, not if."