50,000 REA­SONS

Dear AFL: You know how we want a team? Now we’ve got ...

Mercury (Hobart) - - FRONT PAGE -

FIFTY thou­sand peo­ple have now pledged to support a Tas­ma­nian team in the AFL — prompt­ing Pre­mier Will Hodg­man to de­clare its time has fi­nally come. The pledges were made to the unit­ed­we­s­tand.com.au web­site set up by the gov­ern­ment task­force that will use the re­sponse to help bol­ster its case to the AFL.

THE AFL might have — dis­ap­point­ingly — opted not to com­ment on it yes­ter­day, but the fact that now more than 50,000 peo­ple have pledged their support for a fu­ture Tas­ma­nian club in the big league is a sig­nif­i­cant achieve­ment.

As ex­plained by Brett God­frey, the chair of the State Gov­ern­ment-backed task­force that is build­ing the case for a club, the achieve­ment shows Tasmanians are united be­hind this lat­est push for the AFL to live up to its name and be­come a truly na­tional com­pe­ti­tion — with a team from every state.

In his in­ter­view with our sports ed­i­tor Brett Stubbs, Mr God­frey says not only was the tar­get reached sooner than ex­pected but it shows “a de­gree of unity not ever ev­i­dent be­fore in the his­tory of this sort of process” as the pledges have been split evenly be­tween the North and the South of the state.

This is a good sign. The top ex­cuse his­tor­i­cally given by the AFL as to why Tas­ma­nia can­not have a team of its own has been our North-South di­vide. If we can’t work out be­tween us where the team would be based (Launce­s­ton or Hobart) then the dis­cus­sion ends there, or so the spivs at AFL house have al­ways said as they pat­ted us pa­ter­nal­is­ti­cally on the head.

Now — cour­tesy of the highly suc­cess­ful pledge cam­paign— that is a myth busted. The task­force’s point is that at this point that is a ques­tion that is for down the track. The rel­e­vant ques­tion is would all

The am­bi­tion is the AFL sees the logic and agrees to grant us a provisiona­l li­cence. We have 50,000 rea­sons to be­lieve.

Tasmanians unite be­hind a team? And on this, we have voted with our clicks.

In fact that has been the ap­proach of the task­force: to bust the myths that have tra­di­tion­ally stood in our path — think size of pop­u­la­tion, home-grown tal­ent path­ways, com­mer­cial support. All of these are eas­ily dealt with, if only the AFL takes the time to ac­tu­ally listen. Let’s hope, then, that this time they do.

The cur­rent push has had an un­prece­dented amount of support not only here but on the main­land too. It has cracked all the footy chat tele­vi­sion and ra­dio shows and been fea­tured in the Footy Record dur­ing the fi­nals. Even Mel­bourne’s Her­ald Sun ed­i­to­ri­alised in favour of us hav­ing a team this time around: “If the num­bers add up, now is their time.”

The 50,000 pledges mile­stone is sig­nif­i­cant be­cause it rep­re­sents a par mem­ber­ship of ex­ist­ing AFL clubs — and more than many, in­clud­ing the North Mel­bourne Kan­ga­roos (at around 41,000). While, yes, mak­ing a pledge did not cost any­thing, those do­ing so also did not re­ceive any­thing for en­ter­ing their de­tails into what would now be quite a valu­able data­base. The task­force’s plan is to hand that data over to the fu­ture Tas­ma­nian AFL footy club.

The next step? Well, firstly to keep those pledges com­ing in. There is no rea­son why 50,000 should be the up­per limit. (Per­haps the next tar­get should be 77,500 — the num­ber of mem­bers signed up to the Ade­laide Crows.) Sec­ond, it is for the task­force to com­plete its work and present that to the AFL as both a com­pleted busi­ness case and a plan for how this dream could now be­come a re­al­ity, on and off the field.

The am­bi­tion? That the AFL sees the logic and agrees to grant us a provisiona­l li­cence to be ac­ti­vated when there is next a gap in the com­pe­ti­tion, through ex­pan­sion or a club fold­ing. We have never been closer, and now there are 50,000 rea­sons to be­lieve.

Re­spon­si­bil­ity for all ed­i­to­rial com­ment is taken by the Ed­i­tor, Chris Jones, Level 1, 2 Sala­manca Square, Hobart, TAS, 7000

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