AFL Statement

The AFL wishes to advise the following correspondence from AFL CEO Gillon McLachlan to AFL Club Presidents summarising the Colin Carter Review of the Tasmanian Taskforce submission for a team for Tasmania.

Mr Carter presented his Review to the AFL Commission last week after spending several months reviewing the submission for a Tasmanian team and speaking to dozens of people across football, Government, business and community in both Tasmania and across the rest of Australia.

This summary has been provided to Club Presidents along with a copy of Colin’s Review which is attached.

Major findings of the review include: 

  • The case for Tasmania is strong, particularly with the deep historical links to our game and there should be a team representing Tasmania in the AFL/AFLW national competitions - however the best form of that team is less clear-cut.
  • The case can be made for a 19th Licence but re-location of an existing team if a club is prepared to take that path, or a joint venture between Tasmanian stakeholders and a Victorian team that secures strong support in two markets from the outset, would arguably produce a more sustainable outcome and therefore should be considered before a 19th licence.
  • Reaching a decision on a team to represent Tasmania should not be impacted by Covid but the decision around timing should. The AFL and the clubs will reasonably minimise new financial risks and the clubs should not be expected to make a final decision at a time when AFL industry finances are under stress.
  • Any outcome is dependent on locking in State Government funding guarantees and provision of appropriate stadia and related facilities in Tasmania and these should be finalised ahead of any decision. 
  • Tasmania is deserving of a team to represent the state on historic and fairness grounds and most economic arguments can be overcome as long as Government funding is secured.
  • A 19th team would be positioned in the middle of the bottom third of the wealth ladder of our industry, but a combined Tasmanian and Victorian support base would position the new club in the middle wealth ranks of AFL clubs, a formidable competitor on and off the field.
  • The Taskforce submitted that a 19th team would be net accretive because of incremental media rights but this review notes that AFL and industry advice is that broadcast rights are unlikely to reach the levels forecast by the Taskforce
  • Many of the risks of starting a new team in Tasmania can be managed regardless of which pathway is chosen and key concerns raised in opposition to a team such as the size of the Tasmanian population, the north-south rivalry, player retention, dilution of talent, fixture complications and the state of the Tasmanian economy are all issues that can be managed and should not influence the decision on a team, whatever the eventual model.
  • Tasmania is a football state and the cost of securing a football state are reasonable, fulfils the purpose of the AFL and is the right thing to do.

On behalf of the AFL Commission, I want to thank Colin for his work and his time and energy in investigating the case for a team for Tasmania.  Colin, as a former AFL Commissioner and long-time President at the Geelong Cats, has brought his integrity, his experience in the game, his intellect and his analysis to independently assessing the case for a team for Tasmania.  I also want to thank Colin for his time in addressing the Commission and answering questions.

Former Geelong president and AFL Commissioner Colin Carter. Picture: AFL Photos

The AFL Commission welcomes the Carter Review and supports Colin’s findings that Tasmania has a strong football history and a clear passion for our game.

Given the current "financial situation" the Commission acknowledges the Carter Review finding that the AFL Clubs should not be asked for a final decision at a time when AFL industry finances remain under serious stress from the Covid pandemic.

The recommendation that all models should be investigated before clubs are asked to decide on a team for Tasmania and that a relocation or joint venture capturing the Melbourne and Tasmanian supporters would provide a more successful and sustainable model should also be considered. This review makes clear that the best chance of success is a team that captures both the Tasmanian and Melbourne markets.

While the AFL Commission acknowledges that any decision to relocate or joint venture rests with the directors and members of individual clubs it accepts the Review’s finding that “a combined Tasmanian and Victorian support base would position the new club in the middle wealth ranks of AFL clubs, a formidable competitor on and off the field."

A view of Blundstone Arena in Hobart. Picture: AFL Photos

We are thankful to the Tasmanian Government’s support for its proposed investment for a team to represent Tasmania and investment in stadia to ensure the team was successful and sustainable and agrees with the Review that these issues should be pursued ahead of any decision by clubs.  

We will work with the Tasmanian Government to see what a potential model might look like.

We also accept that this is not a decision for clubs right now as we continue to navigate a Covid pandemic. This pandemic has contributed to a collective loss of revenue of more than $700m and is currently costing up to $6m a week to continue to keep the competition going.

We will work with the Tasmanian Government and work through a number of the steps outlined by Colin that are important to lock in ahead of any decision by clubs.

We support the view that a team representing Tasmania is the right thing to do and ensuring it has the best possible chance of long-term success is also the right thing to do.

We will also have time to discuss that in more depth at our next meeting but – again – we are not asking clubs to decide at that meeting on any direction.