Mercury (Hobart)



THERE is no doubt the campaign for Tasmania’s very own AFL team is heating up. Other than the fight for Teddy Sheean’s Victoria Cross, it’s been one of the Mercury’s longest-running campaigns, but just as we could sense the momentum change before that Tasmanian naval hero was finally given the recognitio­n he deserved, the odds are shifting and the dream of a state team is closer than ever to becoming a reality.

Exclusive reporting by Mercury sport editor Brett Stubbs in this weekend’s Sunday Tasmanian completely changes the playing field.

Stubbs revealed for the first time that Tasmania would only need seven votes from the AFL clubs to get its big league licence.

It had previously been understood that for the AFL to expand past its 18 teams, we would need the support of at least two thirds (12) of the clubs.

But Stubbs wrote that was a misinterpr­etation of the constituti­on and, in fact, if the AFL Commission recommends expansion, two thirds would have to oppose it to reverse the commission’s decision.

Our state’s push for its own team already enjoys the support of Hawthorn, North Melbourne, Adelaide and the Western Bulldogs, meaning we’d need just three more teams to see the value in making sure the AFL is truly a national competitio­n and that loyal Tasmanian supporters get the recognitio­n they deserve.

In fact, the only vocal opponent to our plight is Gold Coast Suns president Tony Cochrane, whose concerns are less about the league and more about problems in his own back yard.

For the first time ever we have both a business case and the Colin Carter report saying Tasmania should have a team. We have the AFL committed to a decision-making timeline and we have a premier in Peter Gutwein that will just not let this issue go.

Stubbs further revealed that fourtime Hawthorn premiershi­p coach Alastair Clarkson will likely join Team Tasmania by helping a select group of experts lobby the AFL and its teams, as well as set up funding and stadium deals.

Having Clarkson’s support alongside the big names already on our side will be a huge boost to the cause.

Financiall­y, it’s been proven the Tasmanian side stacks up; the AFL knows it would be the only team in the whole competitio­n to have the unwavering support of a state government behind it.

Tasmania has answered every question the AFL has asked of it and the recent finals matches in Launceston were testament to how well our island state can perform on the big stage.

We dare to dream that by this time next year the AFL will have paved the way for our very own team.

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