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Overseas push 'a waste of time and money': Kennett

Hawthorn president Jeff Kennett - AFL,Hawthorn,Jeff Kennett
Hawthorn president Jeff Kennett
I don't like the idea that when we're paid to try and win a premiership you therefore put your players in planes to travel miles into a foreign environment to play a game of football
Jeff Kennett

HAWTHORN president Jeff Kennett says the AFL's push into China and India is "an absolute waste of time and money", vowing that the Hawks will never play overseas games under his reign.

Port Adelaide and Gold Coast are due to play their second consecutive premiership game in China's biggest city, Shanghai, in round nine this year, while AFL CEO Gillon McLachlan last week revealed four clubs had flown to India on a fact-finding mission.

Richmond and Greater Western Sydney have been pushing since last year to play a premiership game in Mumbai, while Essendon and Adelaide have also been investigating playing a pre-season or exhibition game on the subcontinent. 

Kennett told SEN radio on Monday morning he had "great concern" about the AFL's drive to play in China and India, saying the League should be concentrating on making the existing competition and clubs "self-supporting".

"I said to my players the other day when we were down in Tassie, 'Don't expect me to ever approve you travelling overseas to play a game for (premiership) points. We are a professional team. I'm not going to put at risk four points to have you flying in a plane from here to China or here to India for a four-point game. That's not what we're paying you to do'," Kennett said.

"I don't even like them going overseas for exhibition games. I've said no to that as well. If they want to go to Europe, well then they're paid well enough, go on holiday.

"But don't go and put yourselves at risk (in an overseas game). This is a serious business."

Kennett said the Hawks would never play an overseas game under his watch, saying he was not prepared to jeopardise Hawthorn's primary goal of winning premierships.

"I don't like the idea that when we're paid to try and win a premiership you therefore put your players in planes to travel miles into a foreign environment to play a game of football. How can you properly prepare a team for a match when they spend 24 hours on the plane before they go there?" he said.

"We have obligations to our 80,000 members, or whatever it is, and that is to do whatever we can to win a premiership, and that's not playing in China, not playing in India.

"My job, the board's job, is to play the game seriously in the environment in which it lives. It will never live in India, it will never live in China. It's just an absolute waste of time and money.

"The AFL should be focused on what it does well and why it was established, which was to oversee the operation of the code here in Australia."

In response to Kennett's comments, an AFL spokesman told AFL.com.au, "Our position is that the game has looked at opportunities in China and India because those two countries are providing a significant section of the new migrant entry to the country, and we are seeking to show our game to those areas in a bid to continue to expand the fan base and the growth of the game."