HAWTHORN president Jeff Kennett says the time has come for a united front in Tasmanian football.
In an exclusive interview with AFL.com.au, Kennett revealed he made a proposal to his North Melbourne counterpart, Ben Buckley, about joining forces for an NAB AFL Women's team in Tasmania.
Buckley rejected the informal offer, which came after the Roos won an AFLW licence – in conjunction with AFL Tasmania – to enter the competition in 2019.
North spokesman Heath O'Loughlin told AFL.com.au that club officials "would no more consider merging our AFLW team with another club than we would our men's team".
AFL chief executive Gillon McLachlan has consistently stated his preference for one club to service Tasmania rather than two, and reiterated that viewpoint on Tuesday.
But the League's boss acknowledges both Hawthorn and North are locked in to play games there until at least 2021, contracts the AFL says will be honoured.
Kennett, who officially returned as president at the Hawks' AGM in December, is adamant the AFL wants the Kangaroos to be the sole club hosting matches in Tasmania.
The future of Tasmanian football was high on the agenda when the former Victorian Premier met with McLachlan and AFL Commission chairman Richard Goyder before Christmas.
"I don't think anything positive comes from continuing that (one team in Tasmania) discussion," Kennett said.
"Hawthorn's been in Tasmania for well over a decade and we have built up a huge relationship with the Tasmanian community, both north and south.
"We are very much involved in education programs in a whole lot of aspects … and therefore I suggested to the chairman, Mr Goyder, and Gill that this sort of snickering, if you like, is self-defeating.
"Tasmania is big enough for two clubs playing down there. We play four games (each year), North Melbourne three.
"It works well, and rather than continue to divide, let's all work together for a common outcome. I have a very strong personal attachment to Tasmania."
Hawthorn's then-president Ian Dicker brokered the club's first Tasmanian foray, which saw the Hawks end the state's nine-year AFL drought when they hosted Adelaide there in 2001.
But it was Kennett, in the first year of his previous stint as president, who oversaw a five-year, $15million deal with the Tasmanian Government in 2006 to play games in Launceston.
The arrangement has paid dividends for Hawthorn, with booming annual profits, record Tasmanian membership of about 9,500 last year and strong on-field results across the Bass Strait.
There has, however, been a gradual decline in match attendances, which Kennett, in part puts down to the teams the Hawks are playing.
He believes removing Hawthorn from the state would "hit their economy for six".
The Hawks were unsuccessful last year in applying for an AFLW side – part of their pitch was at least one match in Launceston – after not being part of the initial bidding process, but are serious about women's football.
Kennett has moved on from the failed North Melbourne offer, but saw potential in it.
"We would have shared the costs and the effort, but given Tasmania a team of their own," he said.
"They're not going to get a senior male team for a number of years, but they could have had a female team (based in Tasmania).
"It's something that would have inspired the Tasmanian community and … would have shown football working together for both a common football and social outcome."