THE MAN who helped Hawthorn avoid an AFL merger 25 years ago has called for Jeff Kennett to respect the club's members after the Hawks president floated relocation.
In an explosive interview last Friday, Kennett admitted he would not rule out the club's long-term commitment to play home games in Tasmania becoming a fully-fledged move.
Kennett drew the ire of Hawthorn supporters for labelling the club as the "Tassie Hawks".
Hawthorn great Don Scott, who was instrumental in saving his club from becoming the Melbourne Hawks, has described Kennett's comments as confusing and insulting.
'WE ARE THE TASSIE HAWKS' Jeff not ruling out move
"(Kennett) said quite a few things in that interview but the one that seems to have stirred people up is talking about relocating to Tasmania," Scott said.
"The members, and I should imagine the people on the board, wouldn't have known about it.
"The polite thing to do would have been to flag it first with those particular people if there's any credence in it.
"You should flag talks about relocating in the future with No.1: the board, and then also members should be respected and consulted."
Scott is unsure how much momentum the relocation talk will gather.
Kennett's comments came only days after Tasmanian premier Peter Gutwein declared the government would cut ties with Hawthorn, and North Melbourne in Hobart, if the AFL did not outline a clear plan for the state having its own team in the competition.
Hawthorn has been the most successful on-field club in the AFL this century with four flags to its name.
The Hawks are due to move their headquarters to a new multi-million dollar base at Dingley, in Melbourne's south-east, in coming years.
Scott played 302 games for Hawthorn between 1967 and 1981, starring in three premierships to be named as ruck in the club's team of the century.
But he made an arguably greater impact for the Hawks off the field.
Hawthorn was set to merge with Melbourne in 1996, just five years after winning a premiership, but Scott's role in Operation Payback proved powerful.
In an iconic gesture, Scott tore up a mock Hawthorn-Melbourne guernsey in front of emboldened Hawks supporters.
Despite several lean years after avoiding the merger, Hawthorn broke through for a premiership in 2008 and claimed a three-peat between 2013 and 2015.
"It was the members that saved Hawthorn (in 1996), they went from 10,000 to 27,000 very quickly," Scott said.
"The membership generated quite a few million dollars for the club and it's gradually built up since then.
"Respect should be shown to the members because they were the ones who got behind Hawthorn when it was really down and saved the club - not a supporter, a paid-up member."
Kennett admitted relocating Hawthorn to Tasmania would be difficult but "wouldn't rule it out".
"We are the Tassie Hawks. That's how we brand ourselves, we've got Tasmania proudly on the breast. We are very embedded in Tassie," Kennett told Five AA last Friday.