Sunday Herald Sun - - The Coach -

Gold Coast.

In the past seven years, since Gold Coast’s de­but in 2011, two or more of those clubs have fin­ished in the bot­tom four six times.

For all the ta­lent, hand­outs and con­ces­sions given to the Suns, is 12th re­ally the best they can do?

Gary Ablett was lured there with prom­ises and big money, and now he’s back home, with­out even hav­ing left a legacy at Gold Coast.

Dion Pres­tia, a No.9 draft pick, was traded to Rich­mond in 2016, where he now owns a premier­ship medal­lion.

Cur­rent Suns cap­tain Tom Lynch is be­ing courted by at least three of the big clubs, where he is, let’s face it, more likely to play fi­nals.

He will leave, I’m cer­tain of it, de­spite the AFL’s in­duce­ments to make him stay.

For­mer Gi­ant Adam Treloar has boosted the Mag­pies’ stocks, just as Caleb March­bank has at Carl­ton.

Tom Boyd led the Bull­dogs to a premier­ship af­ter be­ing lured from GWS.

The player drain won’t end there — Jeremy Cameron, Toby Greene and Dy­lan Shiel are the next tar­gets at GWS.

Free agency is on the verge of killing these clubs, one young tal­ented player at a time.

The AFL has bit­ten off more than it can chew with four clubs in rugby league ter­ri­tory.

Let’s not for­get its shal­low at­tempt to break into the rugby league mar­ket with the ap­point­ment of Karmichael Hunt at the Suns, and Is­rael Fo­lau at GWS. They were short-lived dis­as­ters. As it is, four clubs are com­pet­ing for a vir­tu­ally non-ex­is­tent sup­porter base and min­i­mal spon­sor­ship op­por­tu­ni­ties.

Re­mem­ber the crowd num­ber — 14,865 peo­ple — at the Giants’ home semi-fi­nal against West Coast Ea­gles last year? It was the low­est AFL fi­nals crowd in 100 years.

Next door al­most 42,000 fans watched an NRL semi-fi­nal.

Com­pare that to the 95,000-plus who watched Rich­mond and Gee­long at the MCG the week­end be­fore.

There is an un­der-utilised AFL dom­i­nant state in our coun­try that de­serves a team in the league, and that is Tas­ma­nia.

All the money the AFL spends to keep the Suns afloat in a tran­sient, hol­i­day city — where no pro­fes­sional sport­ing code has ever fared well — could be put to bet­ter use by mov­ing them south and form­ing the Tas­ma­nian Suns.

The crowds would be big­ger, the sup­port greater and, by get­ting Tas­ma­nian foot­ball back on track, an­other ta­lent pool would emerge for all the clubs’ tak­ings.

And it’s needed. Be­cause sud­denly there is a dearth of young AFL ta­lent across the coun­try. We are los­ing kids to other sport­ing codes and the re­sult is that there are not enough qual­ity play­ers to sup­ply 18 teams.

Fewer play­ers were drafted last year than in pre­vi­ous times.

Clubs are top­ping up their lists with ma­ture-aged play­ers, and hold­ing onto se­nior play­ers for longer. It is a worry.

Cur­rently, Bris­bane is 17th and Gold Coast is 13th. Aside from the Lions’ dom­i­nant era in the early 2000s, devel­op­ment of AFL foot­ball in Queens­land has stalled.

It is, how­ever, al­ready es­tab­lished in Tas­ma­nia, and it’s time to make the most of it.

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