Tasmanian Premier Jeremy Rockliff, AFL CEO Gillon McLachlan and Acting Prime Minister Richard Marles announce the 19th AFL club licence in Tasmania on Wednesday, May 3, 2023. Picture: AFL Photos

AFL CEO Gillon McLachlan has praised Tasmania's patience, passion and perseverance after the League's 19th licence was officially granted to the state ahead of an expected entrance into the AFL in 2028.

After years of lobbying for a team in the Apple Isle, the state has finally been given the green light to build its own team and stadium, following a monumental few days for the code.

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese formally unveiled $240 million in Federal Goverment funding for a new stadium in Macquarie Point in Hobart on Saturday, before all 18 presidents unanimously backed the League's plan for a Tasmanian team on Tuesday morning and the AFL Commission endorsed the vote later that day.

Tasmanian Premier Jeremy Rockliff, AFL CEO Gillon McLachlan and Acting Prime Minister Richard Marles celebrate the new 19th AFL club licence in Tasmania with locals. Picture: AFL Photos

McLachlan travelled to Hobart on Wednesday for the announcement, joining Tasmanian Premier Jeremy Rockliff after the AFL signed binding commitments with the Tasmanian Government that included partnering with the Federal Government for the construction of a 23,000-seat roofed stadium at Macquarie Point in Hobart.

While the AFL men's team is expected to enter join the competition for the 2028 Toyota Premiership season, a state league side could be ready to play by as soon as 2025, but a timeline for the women's entry in the NAB AFLW competition will be worked through in the coming period.

FULL STATEMENT AFL grants 19th licence to Tasmania

"I want to pay great credit to the resilience of the state government and passion of football people in this stage that have hung in. The building blocks are now substantial and this team is going to be a great success," McLachlan told reporters at North Hobart Oval on Wednesday afternoon.

With the 19th licence now granted, the AFL and Tasmanian Government will now select a chair and board of directors before working on details for a training and administration base in the coming months. A community campaign will be launched later in the year to select the name, logo, guernsey and song for the new club.

Gold Coast entered the AFL in 2011 after being officially granted the 17th licence in April 2009. After years of work behind the scenes, Greater Western Sydney was granted the 18th licence in 2010, two years before they entered the AFL.   

The Suns have never played finals – and never been in contention in the second half of a season – while the Giants have reached a Grand Final and two other preliminary finals, but struggled to gain a foothold in western Sydney and battled with player retention across their existence. 

Brooke Barwick (L) and Elliot Lethborg (R) with Richmond star Jack Riewoldt at the announcement of the AFL's 19th team in Tasmania. Picture: AFL Photos

McLachlan said the League has learned invaluable lessons from Gold Coast and Greater Western Sydney's entrances into the AFL and is confident other clubs won't be disadvantaged too much by the inclusion of a new team.

TASSIE TARGETS How the AFL's 19th team could build its list

"I think we've learnt a lot about list builds and how we do that to ensure more immediate success, rather than longer-term success," McLachlan said.

"We've got tools and free agency. We learnt a lot on how you do that with limited impact on the rest of the competition. In the end, in our heavily regulated and equalised game, you need the right people in the right slots making the right decisions.

"We will, reasonably quickly and with the support of the clubs, get a set of rules to put the squad together. It will be good decision-making after that.

"The drafts will be much less compromised than they have been in the past. Free agency will give us leverage to do that. There are more mechanisms now and more liquidity in the player market that we think we can use to have a competitive team from day one, with much less impact on the competition."


McLachlan directed praise towards the 18 club presidents and chairs who had opposed expansion at times until the AFL arrived at a comprehensive proposal that would ensure the competition is equipped to handle another club.

"I want to thank the presidents for really taking us to task. That process has made us better," he said.

"I don't think we've ever been more prepared. The 11 streams are detailed and (have) been iterated from feedback from clubs. We've been held to account.

"When this team comes online in hopefully 2028, it will be coming to a stadium that is hopefully world-class, it will be ready to compete, financial and it is going to be an exciting place to be."

AFL CEO Gillon McLachlan at the announcement of the AFL's 19th team in Tasmania. Picture: AFL Photos

Tasmanian Premier Jeremy Rockliff and McLachlan both confirmed that the new stadium will have some form of roof, but the stadium design and budget is still yet to be finalised, according to the outgoing CEO.

"The design will play out. There are so many variables in building a stadium. We've had a reasonable history in doing it. Ultimately it is a stadium owned and developed by the state; we'll have a seat on the project control group," he said.

"It is an iconic spot, Macquarie Point; it will be an amazing venue for our supporters to come and watch the greatest sport in the world. Whatever the final configuration of the venue is, it will be a huge asset for our competition."

Before finishing his involvement in Wednesday's historic press conference, McLachlan suggested that the 'Tassie Devils' is the name he would favour if he had the choice, with the legalities surrounding that moniker something that might be able to be worked through. And with that, the AFL's 19th club was confirmed on a wet day in Hobart.