Tassie side due reward for years of effort; Gutwein
Former Tasmanian premier Peter Gutwein says he never lost faith in the dream of a team on the Apple Isle.
Outgoing AFL CEO Gillon McLachlan announced in Hobart on Wednesday that the AFL commission and the club presidents had ratified the awarding of a 19th licence to the state, the culmination of nearly four decades of work.
Gutwein told Sports Breakfast negotiations with the league were testy at times.
“You always live in hope. I’ve always been a glass half-full sort of a person,” Gutwein said.
“I was always of the view that Gil McLachlan had good intent, but he had to obviously ensure that the commission was supportive, and importantly the other 18 presidents.
“At times we got frustrated, as a premier at one stage I even threatened to end the current arrangements we have in place with Hawthorn and North Melbourne here … Gil worked very hard to get to where we are today and I’m immensely thankful.”
Football participation numbers in Tasmania have been sliding over recent years, with Gutwein hopeful a professional side could supercharge the sport.
“Tasmanian football has been in a challenging space now for the last 20 years,” he said.
“There’s certainly no doubt the (NBL’s) JackJumpers, that have been a roaring success I might add, Tasmanians have just piled in behind them in the most extraordinary way, which I think augers well with how they’ll react with a Tasmanian AFL team.
“We’re putting a flag in the top of the hill, what’s important now is that we’ve got to build the base. That’s going to be a significant body of work, we’ve got to make sure we take the base of Tasmanian football with us.”
Some club presidents reportedly had concerns over the effects of an extra team in the competition after years of compromised drafts during the formative years of Gold Coast and GWS, but Gutwein said he was confident the team would be set up properly.
“There’s a lot of work to be done,” he said.
“The Government, as I understand it, will work with the AFL to put in place a transition group to ensure that they can start to form the structure.
“I’m one step removed now for obvious reasons, but I’m certain the state government along with the AFL have been planning for this day now for some time.”
The Tasmanian team is slated to enter the AFL competition in the 2028 season, with the elements of the team’s identity to be determined later in the year.
IMAGE: The Advocate.