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