Tasmanian Footy PDF Print Email
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By Paul Thomson Tasmania’s favourite commentating son Tim Lane was at it again, romanticising the concept of a full time Tasmanian team in the AFL. Personally I have a great regard for Tim and his daughter Sam as footy media people.

They both do a great job. However, a few points were missed by Tim, in a rather selective opinion piece in The Sunday Age Sport Section yesterday. As long as this ideal of a Tassie team in the AFL has been in existence, so have the questions as to whether it would be financially viable. Given the State Government’s financial difficulties of late, North Melbourne’s bid was saved by TT lines, the State-owned Ferry Lines that operate the Spirit of Tasmania. Political opportunism it may be, but the hard questions remain as to whether the state can actually afford its own team? Would the state’s commerce base be willing to underwrite the venture? Can yet another team survive in the AFL with crowds of 15 – 20000 a week? Will it continue to attract these crowds if the team struggles – the loyalty factor? Does it mean then that maybe Tasmania hosting 6 to 8 AFL games a year is the best-fit for the state? The AFL has ventured into Gold Coast and Greater Western Sydney with a view, rightly or wrongly, that there are better growth prospects for the AFL brand, rather in the already-saturated footy-mad state of Tasmania. The Apple Isle’s population is @500000 compared to 1 million and growing in the Gold Coast and surrounds and 2.5 million in Sydney’s West. Tassie and for that matter the Northern Territory suffer by sheer numbers.
The North-South divide in Tasmania is something that many wouldn’t know about on the main continent of Australia. It is akin to the Melbourne v Sydney argument, in that there is no point to it at all. However, a closer look at recent Tasmanian Football Competitions has seen Tasmanians vacillate between a statewide league or several regional leagues over the last few decades. There seems to be no coherency to any vision in regards to Tasmanian football and what its best structure is. Indeed, the Tasmanian Devils in the VFL was a by-product of this, as was a restructured Devils concept in the SANFL, an idea that never truly got off the ground. Hawthorn President Jeff Kennett said clearly that his club had no interest in engaging a North-South rivalry.
Noone would sell Tasmania’s contribution to the AFL short. Baldock, Hart, Richardson, Hudson, Lynch…too many names, but the romance of the argument for a Tasmanian AFL team doesn’t do the Tasmanian footy public any practical justice. The Tasmanians are divided from north to south and that is noone’s fault or everyone’s fault, depending on your point of view. It is definitely not the romantic nor logical ideal upon which to establish a massive business undertaking such as Tasmania’s own AFL team. If the rift can be fixed, then that’s a whole other story.


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